Microsoft’s Windows Server Division Weblog has the news:
A few weeks back we introduced a type of non-binding agreement for Web services software called Open Specification Promise. Today we announced that the same agreement now applies to the virtual hard disk (VHD) image format used by Microsoft for encapsulating the OS and app within a virtual machine.
So what’s this mean for the 60+ partners who previously licensed VHD under a royalty-free agreement? It means that you can either stick to the terms of the existing VHD agreement, or you can choose to accept the OSP terms. Your call.
And why should Windows Server customers care about this news? I’ll venture to say that the friendlier terms of OSP will be appealing to more (than 60) vendors, who will then create new VHD-based solutions for Virtual Server and Windows Server virtualization. And I suspect many of these solutions will be interoperable with the open source world.
Ashlee Vance at The Register is a trifle skeptical and observes:
Hoping to up interest in its virtualization wares, Microsoft today freed up one of its key specifications used to manipulate virtual servers and applications.
VMware, which pulled in $189m last quarter, has dominated the server virtualization market and forced Microsoft into some unusual behavior. Microsoft, for example, has decided to give away its server virtualization products for free, has teamed with the open source player XenSource and has opened its server licensing policy on the Data Center version of Windows Server to allow for free virtual OS licenses.
And yes, VMware has its own open virtual machine disk format specification which was announced in April.