Question:

I am curious to know what this message is about:

"You should use Microsoft Windows XP Professional as a host operating system only in a non-production environment."

What does the non-production environment mean and is it recommended to set up a Virtual Server for means of building a website, exchange server, etc... on XP Pro?

Look forward to your response.

Answer:

I am not a legal expert nor authoritative on this issue. What follows is merely my interpretation of various statements and logical intents. You should query Ben or your representative for concrete details.

The issue is really all about product support.

If you want product support from Microsoft, then you can only use the software in the supported manner. If you have problems with Virtual Server or with the supported software inside the Guest OS, you can contact Microsoft PSS for assistance.

If you do not want/need product support from Microsoft, then you can configure and run whatever you want. It is just that if something breaks or does not work, you are on your own.

The reason we stick to such language on support is simple - there are an INFINITE number of ways to configure/use software, we only intend for a set combination to function and can never cover the rest, so we cannot guarantee performance of something we did not intend nor test. It is similar to a product warranty - frequently, the manufacturer warrants against defects under "normal" usage but does not include normal wear and tear, user misuse, acts of Nature, etc. In other words, the manufacturer wants to cover THEIR defect and not ANY possible defect.

What it means is that Windows XP, while a supported Host OS for Virtual Server, is supported only if you run it in a non-production (i.e. personal / experimental / development use) environment. In other words, while Microsoft supports running Server products like Exchange Server (2003SP1), Windows Server, etc inside of a supported Guest OS, if you Host it on Windows XP for your company or other people, then it is not supported; if you Host the same thing on Windows Server 2003, then it is supported.

The reason is quite simple - no one uses Windows XP as a supported Server in a production environment, and you cannot do it now, even though Windows XP can Host supported Servers as Guest OS using Virtual Server. We never intended nor tested Windows XP as a production Server when it was released, and we certainly do not test it now to Host Servers as Guest OS, either. However, we will not stop you from doing it because it is technically possible and has its own benefits; we can only say we do not support it in production.

So, the answer to your question is that yes, you can run servers like Exchange, IIS, SQL, etc as a Guest OS Hosted on Windows XP. However, it is simply not recommended nor supported by Microsoft if you plan on using that combination like a real Server (i.e. have >1 user, physical or virtual, use it).

//David