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January 23, 2008

Microsoft Steps Up Assault on Virtualization

By Anshu Shrivastava, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Microsoft (News - Alert) has reportedly 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 software giant’s plan includes the acquisition of a Silicon Valley startup company, Calista Technologies. The company has 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 OS's in a virtualized environment, Microsoft said. It also announced new licensing rates for corporate users.
Also, Microsoft has extended its partnership with Citrix Systems (News - Alert) to make that company's Xen virtualization software work better with Microsoft’s server and desktop software.
Virtualization technologies are said to separate the software on a computer from its underlying hardware, allowing it to be deployed in more flexible ways.
In addition, virtualization enables multiple operating systems to run on one computer, and also allows application workloads to be shifted between computers more easily to improve hardware utilization.
Microsoft is not considered as a significant player in virtualization, but the company is hoping to change that with its announcements this week.
“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.
Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research (News - Alert), told the press that Microsoft is “using the same playbook” it used in the Web-browser wars, when it eventually overwhelmed rival Netscape Communications Corp. And, he doesn't think VMware has much to worry about for two years or so, though, because its products are so well entrenched in corporate computer rooms.
"What we have been developing over the last seven years is what Microsoft is just starting to think about,” said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions at VMware.
Apple (News - Alert) had also recently introduced virtualization for its Macintosh desktops so that users can run both the Mac OS and Windows on the same machine.
Anshu Shrivastava is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To see more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

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