Microsoft steps up assault on virtualization

By , IDG News Service |  Virtualization

Microsoft has laid out plans to become a bigger force in the market for virtualization
software, stepping up its assault on established leaders such as VMware.

The plans announced Monday include the acquisition of a start-up company, Calista
Technologies, whose graphics technology is designed to improve the end-user
experience for people who access their Windows desktop remotely from a server,
Microsoft said.

The company also loosened some of its licensing terms related to virtualization.
Consumers who use the Home Basic and Home Premium editions of Windows Vista
will now be able to run those OSes in a virtualized environment, Microsoft said.
It also announced new licensing rates for corporate users.

Finally, Microsoft extended its partnership with Citrix Systems to make that
company's Xen virtualization software work better with Microsoft's server and
desktop software, it said.

Virtualization technologies separate the software on a computer from its underlying
hardware, allowing it to be deployed in more flexible ways. Virtualization can
allow multiple operating systems to run on one computer, for example, or allow
application workloads to be shifted between computers more easily to improve
hardware utilization.

The technology has been around for decades but was popularized in server environments
recently by VMware and others. More recently, Apple introduced virtualization
for its Macintosh desktops so that users can run both the Mac OS and Windows
on the same machine.

Microsoft has not been a significant player in virtualization, but it hopes
to change that with its announcements this week. It plans to discuss the changes
at its Virtualization Deployment Summit, a two-day event for 300 of its customers
and partners that starts Tuesday.

It argued that the virtualization market remains open for newer players like
itself.

“Very few customers are able to reap the benefits of virtualization today,”
Bob Muglia, senior vice present of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, said
in a statement. “We estimate that less than five percent of companies are
utilizing virtualization technology because it is simply too cost-prohibitive
and complex."

Microsoft's strategy will be to offer a full range of virtualization products,
including desktop, server and management software, and do so at a competitive
price, Muglia said.

Customers with the Home and Home Premium editions of Vista can now run them
as a guest operating system on a virtual machine, the company said. Among other
things, that should mean that Apple Mac users who want to run Vista alongside
the Mac OS can now do so without having to buy a more expensive version of Windows.

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