Will Apple ever fully liberalize Mac OS X virtualization?

Issue is 'something that customers need to take to Apple,' says one vendor

Kazanjy is hopeful that as customer demand builds for virtualizing the Mac OS, Apple will relent.

"Apple is a very reasonable company. If they see the market opportunity, they will open up," he said. Especially if it involved "cementing" the Leopard client to Apple hardware, as the server version is, Kazanjy added.

"We have our fingers crossed," he said. "If it happens, we will be all over it, as we have a bunch of very sharp engineers rarin' to go."

Others think the demand won't ever be large.

"This is going to be a minor, minor scenario," said Brian Madden, an independent desktop virtualization analyst. The main reason users want to virtualize Windows is to run Windows apps that are unavailable on the Mac. There are very few Mac apps, especially in the business area, that aren't also available on Windows, he said.

The ones that are unique to the Mac tend to be big, weighty design and animation apps that are so resource-intensive that they aren't good candidates for virtualization, especially Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which involves streaming VMs over a network from a server to a client machine, Madden said. He argues that Macs continue to lack the management software that would make virtualizing Macs attractive to enterprises.

"A lot needs to happen first," Madden said.

Parallels' Chew thinks that Apple's licensing now only makes virtualizing Leopard attractive to software developers. To encourage use of Mac OS X for VDI, he suggests a possible compromise: to let Leopard clients be virtualized but require users to buy a license for every individual piece of hardware that would receive a VDI stream, which is what Microsoft does.

"We're working very closely with Apple to see if we can expand the scope of virtualization," Chew said. "But this is something that customers need to take to Apple."

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