Microsoft Hyper-V now supports Linux-based CentOS

Hyper-V now supports Red Hat, Suse Linux and CentOS as guest OSes, in addition to Windows

Microsoft has added support for another Linux server distribution with its Hyper-V virtualization software, its latest move to compete better with virtualization market leader VMware.

Customers can now run the CentOS flavor of Linux as a guest operating system in supported Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environments, Sandy Gupta, general manager for marketing in Microsoft's Open Solutions Group, was due to announce at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco Monday.

Microsoft already supports Hyper-V environments that include Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise Server. It added CentOS because it's a popular distribution for hosting providers, a market Microsoft hopes to do well in.

The support is effective immediately, Gupta wrote in a blog post.

"This development enables our hosting partners to consolidate their mixed Windows + Linux infrastructure on Windows Server Hyper-V; reducing cost and complexity, while betting on an enterprise class virtualization platform," Gupta wrote.

Once contemptuous of open source, Microsoft has become more pragmatic about Linux in recent years. The company has realized it must interoperate with Linux and other OSes if it wants to do well in data centers, which are typically mixed environments.

"We've found that the Microsoft-only IT shop -- even in the smallest organizations -- is becoming a thing of the past," said Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "It's important for Microsoft to recognize this fact of life and extend support to various Linux operating systems if they want Hyper-V to come out on top in the virtualization wars."

At the same time, Microsoft continues to assert that Linux and other open-source software products violate various patents that it holds.

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