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I have been providing a demo of some software as a virtual machine. By providing a virtual machine, it is very easy for users to evaluate - the software only runs in linux and has many dependencies.

The software is targeted to a small community of research scientists. This has been working great until scientific peer-review, one of the reviewers reports:

I attempted to install the VirtualBox software and encountered the warning:

"The software you are installing has not passed the Windows Logo testing to verify its compatibility with Windows XP ... Continuing your installation of this software may impair or destabilize the correct operation of your system either immediately or in the future. Microsoft strongly recommends that you stop this installation now and contact the software vendor for software that has passed Windows Logo testing."

This is a critical issue to deal with. We will have to find an appropriate solution for making the software available, and also to ensure that it is installable by at least a majority of readers and potential users.

Based on a quick google, users ignore the warning and almost always have no problem. However, the issue was reported at the virtualbox website and one user got the black screen of death - although this could just be a fluke.

Two related questions on this site provide useful information: Automatically accept Windows Logo testing? and Installing VirtualBox on Windows XP. However, these do not solve my problem because there is no evidence that ignoring the message is safe.

At a minimum, we need to either:

  • provide proof that it is safe to ignore the warning
  • provide a safe way to install VirtualBox that does not give the warning
  • recommend an alternative VM software that does not show this error
  • justify not supporting Windows XP (official support ends April 2014).

Furthermore, some features are not required by the VM:

  • networking
  • use of host drives

Question: How can we provide a simple, trustworthy alternative?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Windows Hardware Quality Labs certificate is a digital certificate given to driver (and other) software which is signed with Microsoft's private key. Microsoft only signs drivers that have been submitted to them for testing, along with a modest fee (about $250US.)

VirtualBox installs drivers but has never (to my knowledge) submitted the drivers to Microsoft for certification. Thousands of people use VirtualBox anyway without ill effects (myself included.) If you're looking for a virtualization tool that supports Linux guests and WHQL-signed host drivers, I believe VMWare is your best bet (since Microsoft's own VirtualPC tool doesn't support non-Windows guests.)

Windows XP has three levels of WHQL enforcement: Ignore, Warn, and Block. The default is Warn, which warns the user before installing an unsigned driver. The effects of Ignore and Block ought to be self-evident: Ignore turns off WHQL checks, Block prevents unsigned drivers from being installed at all. You can change the setting from the System Control Panel.

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you can use vmplayer from vmware instead, which will satisfy the log thing, and is also free.

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can you provide a reference, e.g. saying that vmplayer has a signed driver? –  David Apr 27 '12 at 17:50

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