Microsoft’s promised September virtualization fest kicked off today as they started a global series of “Get Virtual Now” marketing events, but the big news is that their Hyper-V virtualization server is now a free download and will be shipping within 30 days as will Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.
Admittedly, Hyper-V Server 2008 was only a $28 add-on to Windows Server 2008, but the puzzle is why it wasn’t free in the first place. As to why it is free at all, Microsoft is trying to launch their fledgling in the face of VMware’s current hold on the virtualization market and if the Hyper-V features are "good enough," free seals the deal. VMware is not oblivious however and has their own free entry offerings.
Microsoft created the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) in 2006 as a home for four acquired technologies including Softgrid’s application virtualization, but oddly delivered it only as a perk for System Assurance customers which as a rule are the larger enterprises. Apparently, Microsoft feels that the virtualization portion is the real draw and last week they announced that they are adding the desktop virtualization technologies they acquired with Kidaro and renaming MDOP as Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization:
We’ve invested over $400 million in developing and expanding MDOP thus far, and I’m very excited to share with you that we have officially finalized the acquisition of Kidaro Technologies, whose products enable a seamless combination of applications running from within both a host and guest OS. This technology will help enable end users to run applications from multiple versions of Windows at the same time, with seamless windowing and menus, and without the confusion of logging into and seeing multiple virtual machine desktops. The product teams are working closely with our new colleagues from Kidaro to incorporate the desktop virtualization technologies into MDOP in the first half of 2009, under the new product name Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization. We will continue investing here because we know manageability is fundamental to broad corporate use of desktop virtualization.
We’ve sold over 6.5 million licenses of MDOP to date, making it the fastest-selling volume licensing product in Microsoft history. It’s worth noting that 60 percent of IT Pros who are familiar with MDOP have told us they intend to deploy MDOP within the next 12 months.
While all this is undoubtedly a technological tour de force, one can’t help wonder if the advent of Web apps with better quality user interfaces obviates the need for elaborate virtualization lashups to run desktop applications from multiple managed PCs. Still, there are plenty of legacy Windows apps, particularly in large enterprises, where Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MEDV) may still be the way to go at least for a while.
Microsoft is holding a private Virtualization Deployment Summit today and tomorrow for Microsoft customers and partners. An uncharitable view is that it is all fancy footwork to distract from the late and featured reduced Hyper-V (formerly Viridian), but there was some interesting news including the acquisition of Calista Technologies.
Microsoft has completed the acquisition of Calista Technologies, a leading provider of graphics technologies for next-generation desktop and presentation virtualization solutions. Calista software improves the user experience of 3-D and multimedia delivery for Microsoft multimedia applications, virtualized desktop deployments, and server-hosted virtualized desktops or applications using Windows Server Terminal Services.
Microsoft also finally backed off on the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) prohibition of the virtualization of Home Versions of Windows Vista which had caused adverse comment when it was revealed last year and was clearly an annoyance for developers (not to mention Mac users) although Microsoft had claimed security risks. Those concerns have apparently been allayed.
Finally, Microsoft renewed their vows with satellite Citrix, the long time provider of Microsoft-based thin client solutions and proud new owner of XenSource, and promised a new virtualization marketing push based on Windows Server 2008.
Microsoft’s Viridian virtualization software (aka Windows Server virtualization) that was supposed to be built into Windows Server 2008 is late and feature short, but Microsoft seems to be doing their best to bluff the other players at the VMworld conference today: