VMware yanks Mac OS X client virtualization 'feature'

Fusion 4.1 gave life to Leopard and Snow Leopard client virtualization, but VMware quickly ended it again with the Fusion 4.1.1 upgrade

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On the VMware Fusion company blog, VMware quickly posted a new announcement:

VMware Fusion 4.1 was released late last week and includes many great improvements. One change was the introduction of a new license verification step for users to verify they are in compliance with the OS licensing terms.

When the license verification step was added in VMware Fusion 4.1 the server edition check was omitted. We are preparing an update.

Running Mac OS X client in a virtual machine continues to require Lion (purchased from the Mac App Store or a USB thumb drive). Users should always ensure they remain in compliance with any applicable software license agreements.

The expanded guest operating system feature or capability was actually more like a "bug," and while VMware has released an "update," it's really more of a "fix."

Mac users who had a chance to enjoy this bug in VMware Fusion 4.1 -- and who plan to continue to take advantage of it -- are probably fine as long as they never have to upgrade to a newer release. However, be warned that legality questions still remain. Apple does not currently allow you to operate these other client operating systems in a virtual machine. You do so at your own risk.

So far, the response to VMware's blog post can be summed up as disappointment and frustration. Users expressed the need for virtualizing these older client operating systems in order to run PowerPC applications that aren't compatible with Lion. Others expressed concern over the loss of Rosetta. Developers chimed in, commenting on the fact that virtualizing older clients would help them test and maintain applications across the three most recent versions of OS X for compatibility reasons. And some VMware community members, like DMK, have gone a step further and emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook, urging him to change Apple's current stance on Mac OS X virtualization. In a letter to Cook, DMK writes:

I would like to urge Apple to permit Fusion users to install a virtual Snow Leopard. I don't see a downside to Apple here. Not only will it make my life and the life of other users of Rosetta legacy software easier, but it also makes it possible for me to upgrade to a new Mac that will not run Snow Leopard natively. I have held back from getting a new MacBook Air because I knew I wouldn't be able to boot into Snow Leopard.

VMware has since released Fusion version 4.1.1, which reinstates the Mac OS X version-checking routines. After upgrading, users will no longer be able to create a virtualized instance of a Leopard or Snow Leopard client; additionally, any virtual machines that were created with version 4.1 and contain either of these client-based operating systems as a guest OS will cease to function and no longer boot after upgrading.

VMware has instructions on the company website that detail how to update these already created virtual machines to OS X Lion so that they continue to work. However, this doesn't solve the problems expressed by the many Fusion users and wannabe users. Unfortunately, VMware's corporate hands are tied because of Apple's restrictive EULA. The virtualization giant opened Pandora's box with this simple mistake and provided users with the taste of the good life -- if only for a few days. We'll see where this mistake takes us next.

Will you take a chance and continue to run Fusion 4.1 without future updates? If this is that important to you, will you follow DMK's lead and write Tim Cook, asking Apple to change its position on virtualization?

This article, "VMware yanks Mac OS X client virtualization 'feature'," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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