As rumored last week, Microsoft announced today that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now available as a free download. Press Q&A with Zane Adam, director of product marketing in the Windows Server Division:
PressPass: What did Microsoft announce today at LinuxWorld with regard to virtualization?
Adam: We announced three key things today that help drive our goal of making virtualization a more mainstream technology. First, we told customers that our Virtual Server 2005 R2 product is now available as a no-charge download. Combined with the flexible virtualization licensing now available with Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, this means there is little barrier to adoption for customers who want to realize the benefits of server virtualization.
Second, we announced the availability of no-charge virtual machine add-ins to run select Linux distributions, along with a technical support model to assist customers as they consolidate their Linux-based applications on Virtual Server 2005 R2.
Our third announcement is about the momentum we’re seeing around our Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format licensing program, which will drive industry development of solutions to help customers better manage virtual machines. We now have more than 45 vendors signed up in this royalty-free license program, which is more than double the number we had six months ago.
PressPass: Why is Microsoft making Virtual Server available at no charge?
Adam: We see virtualization technology as a key stepping stone toward the vision of self-managing dynamic systems. Self-managing dynamic systems are abstracted IT infrastructures that will ultimately give customers greater flexibility, automation and control. These systems will be completely independent of physical resources, so IT groups will have more time to devote to solutions that increase business value. Toward that end, we want to make virtualization more broadly accessible and affordable so our customers can realize benefits in areas like server consolidation, disaster recovery, application re-hosting, and software test and development.
We believe that Virtual Server is already the best server virtualization technology for the Windows Server System and more than 5,000 customers are using the product today. Going forward, our strategy is to continue addressing customer need for virtualization solutions that are secure, interoperable, manageable and fully supported. We’ll also continue exploring how to provide the right licensing policies for all of the servers and applications running on top in the virtual machine environment. As an example, today we allow customers to run up to four virtual operating systems on one physical system running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition at no additional cost.
In the Windows Server “Longhorn” wave, virtualization will become part of the Windows platform via Windows hypervisor technology, and our customers will be able to run an unlimited number of virtual operating systems on one physical server running Windows Server “Longhorn” Datacenter Edition. In light of this and other market trends, I believe customers will think twice before spending thousands of dollars for other virtualization products that very well could be at no charge in a couple of years.
Or in other words, Microsoft just bundled a product in its server OS that provides functionality that other companies are charging for. Before anyone drops a dime to call Neelie Kroes at the European Commission, this looks more like the ongoing commoditization of the virtualization software market (,) than monopolistic activity.
Update: More details on the announcement are here. Also see XenSource Licenses Microsoft’s VHD As Format War Begins.