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distributing trial version using virtual machines

H

Hendrik Schober

#1
Hi,

I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
intensive installation process of a trial version at a
customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
is time-limited.
And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
If those neither, are there other ways to do this?

I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
having some knowledge and ideas to share?

TIA,

Hendrik
 

My Computer

S

Steve Jain [MVP]

#2
On Tue, 19 May 2009 15:08:28 +0200, Hendrik Schober <spamtrap@xxxxxx>
wrote:

>Hi,
>
>I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>is time-limited.
>And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>
>I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>
>TIA,
>
>Hendrik
You should contact Microsoft directly for an authoritative answer on
this, bu no, you cannot distribute installed and activated OSes
(unless you're an OEM) and you can't resdistribute trial OSes with
involving Microsoft.
You should contact your local MS sales or service rep.

--
Cheers,
Steve Jain, Virtual Machine MVP
http://vpc.essjae.com/
 

My Computer

J

Jakob Bohm

#3
Hendrik Schober wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
> is time-limited.
> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>
> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>
> TIA,
>
> Hendrik
The "Microsoft ISV Royalty Licensing Program" seems to fit your needs
nicely, for more information see

https://partner.microsoft.com/global/40012214

Especially note the "End user demonstrations" and "End user evaluations"
headlines on the "Partner benefits" tab of that page.

The scheme requires you to resell at least $5000/year of non-demo
licenses for the Microsoft part of your Windows+application bundle
over a 3 year contract period.

--
Jakob Bøhm, M.Sc.Eng. * jb@xxxxxx * direct tel:+45-45-90-25-33
Netop Solutions A/S * Bregnerodvej 127 * DK-3460 Birkerod * DENMARK
http://www.netop.com * tel:+45-45-90-25-25 * fax:+45-45-90-25-26
Information in this mail is hasty, not binding and may not be right.
Information in this posting may not be the official position of Netop
Solutions A/S, only the personal opinions of the author.
 

My Computer

H

Hendrik Schober

#4
Steve Jain [MVP] wrote:

> On Tue, 19 May 2009 15:08:28 +0200, Hendrik Schober <spamtrap@xxxxxx>
> wrote:
>

>> Hi,
>>
>> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>> is time-limited.
>> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>>
>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>>
>> TIA,
>>
>> Hendrik
>
> You should contact Microsoft directly for an authoritative answer on
> this, bu no, you cannot distribute installed and activated OSes
> (unless you're an OEM) and you can't resdistribute trial OSes with
> involving Microsoft.
> You should contact your local MS sales or service rep.
Thanks, we'll do this.
Anything regarding the technical problems? How do I go
about creating such VMs?

Hendrik
 

My Computer

H

Hendrik Schober

#5
Jakob Bohm wrote:

> Hendrik Schober wrote:

>> Hi,
>>
>> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>> is time-limited.
>> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>>
>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>>
>> TIA,
>>
>> Hendrik
>
> The "Microsoft ISV Royalty Licensing Program" seems to fit your needs
> nicely [...]
I don't think so. Remember, this is for giving away
free trials, not for selling software. If customers
decide to buy the product after they have seen the
trial, they already have their own OS licenses.
There's going to be no revenue from selling MS
software in this.

Hendrik
 

My Computer

R

ronald.phillips

#6
On May 19, 9:08 am, Hendrik Schober <spamt...@xxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
> is time-limited.
> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>
> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>
> TIA,
>
> Hendrik
Usually there is documentation with the trialware/shareware that
describes how the software should be distributed. Any deviation is a
violation of that. Almost all shareware/trialware has to be
distributed in it's original form. (If you care about being legit)
 

My Computer

V

VanguardLH

#7
Hendrik Schober wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
> is time-limited.
> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>
> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>
> TIA,
>
> Hendrik
Rather than distribute a huge image that contains the OS, why not use
software virtualization to distribute a virtual layer for the
application (with possible different versions of the layer for when it
is installed on different version of the OS)?

Altris SVS has their software virtualization product. There is a free
version but I don't think you can use it for commercial purposes. The
idea is to have employees retrieve the pre-configured virtual layer for
an application from the company's server and use that image on their
host. It doesn't include an OS, just all the files and folders (in a
virtualized environment) for the application, so you need to install
their SVS client on the user's host. In fact, using virtual app
layering, you could install multiple versions of the same product
without any conflicts (you would only activate one layer at a time;
i.e., the layers for the multiple versions would be mutually exclusive
and you load just one version). The user could bounce between different
versions of, say, Winzip or a web browser without the user doing any
install of the Winzip apps or each version of it.

While software virtualization allows controlled images of those apps to
run on the user's host, allows multiple version access, and reduces
helpdesk overhead (just have the user reload the layer's image), and
although "virtualization" is involved in this process, once a layer is
activated it appears to exist on the real host just as if you installed
the application on the real host. That means you do not use SVS to
isolate your apps from your host in an anti-malware scheme. Once
activated, there is no isolation between OS and apps on the real host to
the virtualized app.

Altiris got swallowed up by Symantec. www.altiris.com leads you to a
Symantec site. The free stuff is at http://www.svsdownloads.com/. I
don't know if the free version has kept in sync with the commercial
stuff from Symantec (I suspect not). Rather than distribute a large
image with OS and app, you might be able to distribute a much smaller
image of just the virtualized app layer.

I think xenocode.com is trying to come with something similar (I noticed
SVS is involved in their product as a technology but not necessarily
associated with Altiris or Symantec). This, I think, has you store your
apps online and the users get it from there. For example, they have
their http://www.xenocode.com/Browsers/ web page where you download and
install their plug-in that runs a virtualized environment on your host
into which a compact version of the app is ran. If you can put your app
on the web and have it run in a virtualized environment on the user's
host, you don't have to include the huge disk space for an OS and users
don't pollute their host with your app (which also makes it easier for
you to slide in new versions as they become available, as is also
possible with SVS which can push new versions to users' hosts that have
subscribed to the app's layer).
 

My Computer

H

Hendrik Schober

#8
VanguardLH wrote:

> Hendrik Schober wrote:
>

>> Hi,
>>
>> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>> is time-limited.
>> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>>
>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>>
>> TIA,
>>
>> Hendrik
>
> Rather than distribute a huge image that contains the OS, why not use
> software virtualization to distribute a virtual layer for the
> application (with possible different versions of the layer for when it
> is installed on different version of the OS)?
Because this would still require users to setup everything
necessary to try the software -- something which is far more
complicated than most users want to do for a trial.
Hendrik
 

My Computer

V

VanguardLH

#9
Hendrik Schober wrote:

> VanguardLH wrote:

>> Hendrik Schober wrote:
>>

>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>>> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>>> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>>> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>>> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>>> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>>> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>>> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>>> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>>> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>>> is time-limited.
>>> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>>> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>>> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>>>
>>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>>>
>>> TIA,
>>>
>>> Hendrik
>>
>> Rather than distribute a huge image that contains the OS, why not use
>> software virtualization to distribute a virtual layer for the
>> application (with possible different versions of the layer for when it
>> is installed on different version of the OS)?
>
> Because this would still require users to setup everything
> necessary to try the software -- something which is far more
> complicated than most users want to do for a trial.
> >
> Hendrik
And how do YOU know that installing the SVS client (by your customers)
is as traumatic as you imply? The work is done on YOUR end. The
customer/user merely has to install the client. The SVS client takes xx
seconds to download and xx seconds to install. They then load the app
layer that you provide to them. You think this is harder than having to
install VirtualPC or VMWare Server? You are obviously concerned about
making it easy for the potential customer. That means you will have to
do more work on your end to make it easy for them.

You want your potential customers to trial this "rather complex and
hard-to-install software" yet you don't want them installing anything to
trial it? So how difficult do you think it will be for them to install
the Virtual Machine Manager (of your choice and not theirs) to run the
VM image you distribute to them? You really think that installing a
VMM, like VirtualPC 2007 or VMWare Server (both free), and having to
configure them correctly, install VM additions, and then define a new VM
that uses your distributed .vhd file is going to be easier for them than
installing an SVS client under which to run your distributed layer file?
Uh huh, sure, right.

UPDATE: The download link at svsdownloads.com points to a Symantec site
which says the download is no longer available. So you're too late to
make use of the free version of Altiris SVS. This software
virtualization product is no longer available to you. There is still
xenocode.com, however, where the only thing your customers might have to
download is a web browser plug-in.

You could Google search on how to make a bootable CD or DVD image
(depends on how much byte size that the OS and application required) and
distribute your ware as a bootable disc. Of course, as others have
alluded, you will need to get a redistributor license from Microsoft to
include runnable copies of Windows in every virtual machine. Um, you do
know that virtual machines load *operating systems*, not applications,
right? The OS in the VM runs the application.

Alternatively, it will be up to YOU to provide an executable file (with
its ancilliary files) on the distributable media that requires
absolutely no installation and make NO use of the registry to run. That
is, YOU will need to figure out how to make your software portable so it
can run without installation and can be contained on a CD/DVD disc or
USB thumb drive. Try researching at
http://www.google.com/search?q=+make++application++portable.

Based on your comment, just WHY are you requiring that your potential
customers must install VirtualPC for a *trial* of your product? That is
obviously not a non-painful method (to them) of using a trial. You
actually can ensure that every one or even a majority of your potential
customers has VPC already installed?
 

My Computer

H

Hendrik Schober

#10
VanguardLH wrote:

> Hendrik Schober wrote:

>> VanguardLH wrote:
> [...]

>>> Rather than distribute a huge image that contains the OS, why not use
>>> software virtualization to distribute a virtual layer for the
>>> application (with possible different versions of the layer for when it
>>> is installed on different version of the OS)?
>> Because this would still require users to setup everything
>> necessary to try the software -- something which is far more
>> complicated than most users want to do for a trial.
>
> And how do YOU know that installing the SVS client (by your customers)
> is as traumatic as you imply? The work is done on YOUR end. The
> customer/user merely has to install the client. The SVS client takes xx
> seconds to download and xx seconds to install. They then load the app
> layer that you provide to them. You think this is harder than having to
> install VirtualPC or VMWare Server? [...]
No, I don't.
<sigh>
I guess I didn't express myself well. Actually this isn't about
installing. Installing is easy. It's all about setting it up so
that users can see something. So this is not about having the
software installed or not.
Users have to setup a lot of stuff. Imagine they would have to
setup accounts, create DB tables, design workflows, create some
profiles[1] -- and all of this has to work together and has thus
to be done right or the system won't work.
Also, as I said this software needs Windows Server. It cannot run
on a desktop system.

I had looked at xenocode and, while it's a nice idea, I didn't
have the impression it would provide what I needed. But please
tell me if I'm wrong.

Hendrik

[1] Note: I'm not saying this software needs exactly these
things TBD.
 

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J

Jakob Bohm

#11
Hendrik Schober wrote:

> Jakob Bohm wrote:

>> Hendrik Schober wrote:

>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> I have been assigned the task to find out whether it is
>>> possible to distribute trial versions of a rather complex
>>> and hard-to-install software using virtual machines. That
>>> is, instead of the lengthy, error-prone, and quite support-
>>> intensive installation process of a trial version at a
>>> customer's we would like to distribute a virtual machine
>>> that has everything pre-installed and pre-configured. The
>>> guest OS needed is Windows Server 2003.
>>> The virtual machines should be easy to install, but I don't
>>> see how simple cloning could work, since the trial software
>>> is time-limited.
>>> And am I allowed to distribute an installed, but not yet
>>> activated Windows? If not, what about Windows trial versions?
>>> If those neither, are there other ways to do this?
>>>
>>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>>>
>>> TIA,
>>>
>>> Hendrik
>>
>> The "Microsoft ISV Royalty Licensing Program" seems to fit your needs
>> nicely [...]
>
> I don't think so. Remember, this is for giving away
> free trials, not for selling software. If customers
> decide to buy the product after they have seen the
> trial, they already have their own OS licenses.
> There's going to be no revenue from selling MS
> software in this.
>
> Hendrik
Look again, the program includes permission to hand out trials with a
preconfigured 120 day trial version of Windows Server included.

Reselling those $15000 of non-trial Microsoft licenses could be seen as
the price for participating (meaning you sell them to yourself and scrap
them), or you could offer your finished product in a similar
pre-configured bundle and persuade some customers to purchase the bundle
rather than use one of their own Windows Server licenses.

--
Jakob Bøhm, M.Sc.Eng. * jb@xxxxxx * direct tel:+45-45-90-25-33
Netop Solutions A/S * Bregnerodvej 127 * DK-3460 Birkerod * DENMARK
http://www.netop.com * tel:+45-45-90-25-25 * fax:+45-45-90-25-26
Information in this mail is hasty, not binding and may not be right.
Information in this posting may not be the official position of Netop
Solutions A/S, only the personal opinions of the author.
 

My Computer

J

Jakob Bohm

#12
VanguardLH wrote:

> Hendrik Schober wrote:
>

>> VanguardLH wrote:

>>> Hendrik Schober wrote:
>>>
>>>> ...
>
> You could Google search on how to make a bootable CD or DVD image
> (depends on how much byte size that the OS and application required) and
> distribute your ware as a bootable disc. Of course, as others have
> alluded, you will need to get a redistributor license from Microsoft to
> include runnable copies of Windows in every virtual machine. Um, you do
> know that virtual machines load *operating systems*, not applications,
> right? The OS in the VM runs the application.
>
> ...
>
> Based on your comment, just WHY are you requiring that your potential
> customers must install VirtualPC for a *trial* of your product? That is
> obviously not a non-painful method (to them) of using a trial. You
> actually can ensure that every one or even a majority of your potential
> customers has VPC already installed?
As an alternative, the OP could distribute a bootable DVD which either
runs the configured system or installs it on an empty partition. The
DVD should not care if it runs on real or virtual hardware, and should
be pretested with the most common real and virtual hardware (And include
drivers for it, such as VM extensions). One tool to do this is BartPE
(free but does not include the Windows license). Another tool is the
.wim tools in the deployment toolkit for Server 2008.

A 3rd option would be to look for a VM player that doesn't require a
heavy duty installation but could be run directly from the trial DVD.
Older versions of qemu were like that, but emulation could be slow.

--
Jakob Bøhm, M.Sc.Eng. * jb@xxxxxx * direct tel:+45-45-90-25-33
Netop Solutions A/S * Bregnerodvej 127 * DK-3460 Birkerod * DENMARK
http://www.netop.com * tel:+45-45-90-25-25 * fax:+45-45-90-25-26
Information in this mail is hasty, not binding and may not be right.
Information in this posting may not be the official position of Netop
Solutions A/S, only the personal opinions of the author.
 

My Computer

R

Robert Riebisch

#13
Hendrik Schober wrote:

> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
1) http://www.applikr.com/ is still in private beta.
2) How about installing a terminal server at your site and giving
limited access to your customers?

--
Robert Riebisch
Bitte NUR in der Newsgroup antworten!
Please reply to the Newsgroup ONLY!
 

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H

Hendrik Schober

#14
Robert Riebisch wrote:

> Hendrik Schober wrote:
>

>> I cannot believe I'm the first one to tackle this. Anyone
>> having some knowledge and ideas to share?
>
> 1) http://www.applikr.com/ is still in private beta.
And can thus not be evaluated by me.
(However, I doubt any of these in-your-browser
thingies are going to work in this case anyway.)

> 2) How about installing a terminal server at your site and giving
> limited access to your customers?
That might work. I'll check that.

Thanks,

Hendrik
 

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H

Hendrik Schober

#15
Jakob Bohm wrote:

> [...]
> As an alternative, the OP could distribute a bootable DVD which either
> runs the configured system or installs it on an empty partition. [...]
The problem is that there's more to getting a
working demo than what installers usually do.

> A 3rd option would be to look for a VM player that doesn't require a
> heavy duty installation but could be run directly from the trial DVD.
> Older versions of qemu were like that, but emulation could be slow.
I'm told VirtualBox would do this, too.

But there's more problems to solve:
How to setup some pre-configured system from which
a fully running system can can quickly be generated
on-demand?
What about licensing issues (especially for Windows)?

Hendrik
 

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