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Microsoft Providing Virtual Server Free 401

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the right-price dept.
liliafan writes "In an effort to gain a market majority over VMware Microsoft announced it is giving Virtual Server away for free, additionally they will provide customer support for Linux. In a related move VMware have opened their partition file format to the community, aggressive and suprising moves in the virtualisation market."
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Microsoft Providing Virtual Server Free

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  • by TechnoGuyRob (926031) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:06PM (#15053767) Homepage
    That does it, Slashdot. April Fools is OVER.
    • dogs and cats where found living together while mass hysteria ensued.
    • Heh, but the stories on slashdot are typically a few days behind. There'll be a dupe along in 3.......2........1..
    • Didn't Nostrodamus predict this?
    • by fronell (965860) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:02PM (#15054425)
      Virtualization is the future and helps us get to that goal of utility computing. Its not too surprising that Microsoft has done this, nor was this the first drop in price for their server virtualization product.

      What is surprising is Microsoft lagging behind VMWare big time when it comes to server virtualization. When I spoke to a VMWare sales rep, he said the money comes from ESX (which costs $3750 a pop), not GSX or the workstation products. People buy ESX because they want the following (I know this because the company I work for evaluated the different VM products):

      -Faster VM performance
      -Support (anyone that works in a datacenter will tell you that support is always necessary)
      -Features (virtual center, virtual SMP, vmotion)

      No other product stands up to ESX when it comes to the datacenter environment, and thats the market Microsoft needs to go after. The midrange virtualization products like GSX or virtual server are used for developer testing or in QA, but not for running production services (at least not in the big environments). This move by Microsoft won't make much of a dent in VMWare's share (at least where the money is) so its not a huge step.

      I love ESX, and one thing that I hope will make ESX better is Microsoft putting pressure on VMWare to not get too comfy and to constantly innovate because the company's future depends on it. I just hope it doesn't have the same outcome as IE vs NS.
      • I've been an admin of 12 ESX servers for 2 years now. I would say this a very good move for the market as frankly VMware, namely ESX, has been sitting stagnet for some time, something that Microsoft is normally called out for. I'm hoping that the battle to one-up their competitor results in some accelerated innovation in this market.

        The new VS2005 R2 has some very interesting features such as iSCSI and 64 bit support. VMware can start making rapid updates to Server to compete and roll up the good stuffs
    • To be sure, someone please call Satan and ask if it's getting cold down there..
  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:07PM (#15053769) Journal

    Unless I'm missing something here, this action on Microsoft's part is reminiscent of their "response" to Netscape when Microsoft finally recognized they had fallen way behind in an important market.

    And, unless I'm missing something again, I think Microsoft still qualifies as a legally defined "monopoly", and this looks like leveraging their monopoly to unfairly skew market forces and competition.

    And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal.

    (As an aside, interestingly enough, I was surprised to find Microsoft's virtual server technology STILL does not offer hypervisor services... to give some perspective as to how far behind that puts them in "getting it", I worked on virtualized VM boxes on IBM 360 mainframes in school back in the mid-70s! These systems were implemented with hypervisor. Wow!)

    (Caveat: For those of you with home systems with XP Home Edition, this virtual server doesn't come free -- you'll need to flip for the $100 XP Professional upgrade.)

    (Caveat II: I don't always completely trust stories from the Register as I find them a little over-the-top in their anti-Microsoft rhetoric. However I was able to verify the Microsoft Virtual Server IS available for free download.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:14PM (#15053819)
      And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal.

      You're mistaken. That's not how anti-trust law (in the US works). The question is whether consumers are harmed, not competitors. You can make a case that killing VMWare would be bad for consumers in the long run, but that'd be difficult to show today.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:16PM (#15055033)
        My perspective is as a user of VMWare products under linux hosts. For me, the harm of Microsoft's "gift" is obvious! I don't want VMWare to be driven under and be forced to use Windows as the host OS.

        VMWare has recently started giving away some valuable products too (Player and Server), which perhaps clouds the issue. But the fact is, VMWare has to make money on their virtualization software, and Microsoft does not. They can use the Windows tax to subsidize virtualization for as long as need be to ensure that, eventually, Windows is the only "choice."

      • Its been awhile since I've had an antitrust course, but I believe that a monopolist is not allowed to use their monopoly profits to cross subsidize another non-monopoly product (e.g. sell the non-monopoly product for less than its production cost). This is a form of predatory pricing designed to put rivals out of business. A monopolist is also forbiden from bundling the monopoly and non-monopoly products together for similar reasons.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:15PM (#15053831)

      And, unless I'm missing something again, I think Microsoft still qualifies as a legally defined "monopoly", and this looks like leveraging their monopoly to unfairly skew market forces and competition.

      And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal.



      I thought so too, but it also seems that VMWare started the price war when they started giving away VMWare Player. Microsoft may be able to fairly say that they are just reacting to pricing in the market,
    • Definitely. VMware would be foolish not to file a lawsuit against Microsoft for leveraging its monopoly in operating systems to gain an advantage in virtualization software.
    • And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal.

      Funny, most F/OSS software is given away for free, should that be illegal too? To answer my own question: of course not! The situation is quite different. However, I'm willing to bet the situations arising from Microsoft's "free" offerings and the "Free" Software movement look the same in the minds of certain lawmakers/enforcers (and if this were true, this would not be a Good Thing).

      Let's hope we keep our freedom to give things away for free!
    • by jthill (303417) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:44PM (#15053980)
      They didn't start this [vmware.com]. VMware have $0.00'd a midrange VM server. Works real nice.

      It's the "supporting Linux" part that gives me the giggles. Believe anything out of a Microsoft mouth on the subject of Linux? The giggles are getting uncontrollable.

      They may not be in trouble, but they're definitely having to do things they'd very much rather not do.

    • As an aside, interestingly enough, I was surprised to find Microsoft's virtual server technology STILL does not offer hypervisor services... to give some perspective as to how far behind that puts them in "getting it", I worked on virtualized VM boxes on IBM 360 mainframes in school back in the mid-70s! These systems were implemented with hypervisor. Wow!

      It wouldn't be virtualization if it didn't have hypervisor services. Maybe you're talking about hardware virtualization, which was just added by Intel, so
    • by killjoe (766577) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:46PM (#15054000)
      It's a little bit different. In the netscape their aim was to "cut off the airsupply" of netscape by giving away a free browser. In this case they are simply reacting to the fact that RedHat, Novell, IBM etc can now offer XEN out of the box with better performance and scalibility then anything MS has.

      What's great about this announcement is that MS paid lots of money for virtual server and now they are forced to not only give it away for free but also provide support for it. That's millions of dollars down the drain for MS, money that could have gone to research, lobbying, advertising, PR, or even given back to the shareholders. Money down the drain, bad for MS, good for the rest of the world.

      Is all this legal? Well probably. To be honest in a very real sense it's dumping. No company without a monopoly and monopoly profits could have afforded to spend that kind of money on virtual server and then give it away AND support it. The only reason MS can do it is because they have two established monopolies and they can use the obcene profits they make from their monopolies to fund money losing schemes like this (and virtually every other piece of software they hawk). In a pure market economy this could not work.

    • Unless I'm missing something here, this action on Microsoft's part is reminiscent of their "response" to Netscape when Microsoft finally recognized they had fallen way behind in an important market.

      And, unless I'm missing something again, I think Microsoft still qualifies as a legally defined "monopoly", and this looks like leveraging their monopoly to unfairly skew market forces and competition.

      And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal.

      Looks like someone slept through Microsoft Hating 101...

      IE was

    • by SilentChris (452960) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:31PM (#15054256) Homepage
      "Unless I'm missing something here, this action on Microsoft's part is reminiscent of their "response" to Netscape when Microsoft finally recognized they had fallen way behind in an important market."

      Actually, it's more of an act out of desperation. VMWare started this was a few months back by releasing one of their server products for free. Arguably VMWare is the monopoly -- Microsoft is nowhere near the company in terms of marketing penetration or mindshare.

      "And, unless I'm missing something again, I think Microsoft still qualifies as a legally defined "monopoly", and this looks like leveraging their monopoly to unfairly skew market forces and competition."

      Microsoft's monopoly is with Windows, which is installed on 90%+ of the world's machines. What got them in trouble in the browser wars (and again with media players) wasn't the fact they were giving software away but they bundling it with Windows.

      Microsoft isn't bundling Virtual Server with Windows. In fact, it would make little sense, as very few Windows users would have a need for this software. If any when they release it with Longhorn Server (which is their plan) then it could be seen as unfair competition.

      "And, unless I'm mistaken, this should be illegal."

      You're mistaken. Again, dumping software doesn't get these companies in trouble -- bundling it does. If you applied your logic to every company, Apple should be in trouble for iTunes, Sun for Java and Macromedia for Flash.

      "(As an aside, interestingly enough, I was surprised to find Microsoft's virtual server technology STILL does not offer hypervisor services... to give some perspective as to how far behind that puts them in "getting it", I worked on virtualized VM boxes on IBM 360 mainframes in school back in the mid-70s! These systems were implemented with hypervisor. Wow!)"

      At this point "hypervisor" is a more a marketing term than anything. You don't need a hypervisor to have a successful VM. 360 mainframes were able to do it because their CPUs were designed to. The x86 architecture hasn't lent itself very well to hypervisors, which is why most companies that do VMs (including VMWare) don't use one on the platform. Intel is finally releasing a desktop chip that will support virtualization. Don't blame the software companies for lackluster hardware support.

      "(Caveat: For those of you with home systems with XP Home Edition, this virtual server doesn't come free -- you'll need to flip for the $100 XP Professional upgrade.)"

      Considering it's called "Virtual Server", why would anyone running Home edition try to use it? It's clear that the product is intended for administrators and developers, hence the OS requirement.

      "(Caveat II: I don't always completely trust stories from the Register as I find them a little over-the-top in their anti-Microsoft rhetoric. However I was able to verify the Microsoft Virtual Server IS available for free download.)"

      Um, congrats? You're able to use Google. Very nice. Not sure why this statement should be considered a caveat.
    • This is just bogus. (Score:3, Informative)

      by xiphoris (839465)
      And, unless I'm missing something again, I think Microsoft still qualifies as a legally defined "monopoly", and this looks like leveraging their monopoly to unfairly skew market forces and competition.

      I know, I know, we've all heard it before, Microsoft is a convicted monopolist... but for what? Bundling a free (as in beer) web browser with their OS qualifies as taking advantage of their monopoly?

      People get upset every time Microsoft gives something away for free, always claiming it pushes other compa
    • I had the opportunity to conduct a month long virtualization pilot which, among other things, evaluated Virtual Server vs VMWare, and, Virtual Server surprisingly came out on top.

      a) Virtual Server is 64 on a 64 bit OS, if you want it, but VMWare was only available in 32 bit.

      b) Virtual Server, running the application as VMWare, actually ran those apps 10% faster than did VMWare. Our application pegs the CPU for several hours, and so we felt that this was as good as test as any.

      c) Virtual Server was easier t
      • by Anonymous Coward
        *sigh*. I don't know why I do this...

        a) Virtual Server is 64 on a 64 bit OS, if you want it, but VMWare was only available in 32 bit.
        64-bit OSes run 32-bit code just fine (well, except linux distros that screw up the 32-bit compatability layer ... but windows runs 32-bit code fine). The real test is running 64-bit guest OSes - who can give the application the advantage of 64 bits? Because it's the application that matters, not the OS.

        b) Virtual Server, running the application as VMWare, actually ran

  • What kind of free? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy (872397) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:07PM (#15053773)
    Is this free as in beer or free as in screensaver?

    I'm guessing it isn't gonna be free as in Free.

    • That's a really good quote. Mind if I steal it from you?
      • You can have it. I don't think I invented it or anything, so don't bother attributing.

        Negativland did a really good song about freedom with hilariously sad quotes.

        The strongest word is still the word "Free."
        At 7-11 freedom's waiting for you.

    • It's free as in soul.
    • And what effect does it have on the price of VirtualPC for Macintosh??
    • Start Making Sense Or I'll put you into a home!
    • Well, the key is that only an idiot would use MS VS to run Linux. Everybody knows that. Your implementation would have to be so obscure and arcane so as to be irrelevant to the whole.

      So, if you don't run Linux on MS VS, what do you run? That's right, you run MS Windows. So now you have one big server running three copies of MS Server:

      Number of CPUs: 2

      MS Server 2k3 /w VS
      1. MS Server 2k3
      2. MS Server 2k3 /w MS SQL 2k
      3. MS Server 2k3 /w MS SQL 2k

      So, on 2 CPUs, you are running four copies of MS Serv

      • by nachoboy (107025)
        So, on 2 CPUs, you are running four copies of MS Server and two installationf of MS SQL sevrer. How many licenses must you buy? Four for Win2k3, 2 for MS SQL.

        They're giving away [microsoft.com] the OS licenses too...

        "Better virtualization value. Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition provides better value in server virtualization. Licensing policy changes now allow customers to run up to 4 virtual instances of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition on one licensed physical server or hardware partition."
  • by clanky (871867) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:09PM (#15053786) Homepage
    microsoft has also started offering its own proprietary air for free, in an attempt to muscle out the Earth's atmosphere from its traditional strength position in the marketplace.
    • When asked for a comment, an anonymous Microsoft developer stated "I know that it's ancient history, but some of us were really sorry for that 'cut off their air supply' comment... long live Netscape!"
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:10PM (#15053794)
    additionally they will provide customer support for Linux.

    And what will their standard answer be? "Upgrade to Windows Vista"?

  • Until the US Justice Department stops this move by Microsoft on anti-trust grounds.

    OK, I changed my mind.

  • VMWare == good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tcopeland (32225) *
    We use it for testing indi [getindi.com] on a variety of platforms - we've got preconfigured WinME/XP/2K VMs that we can fiddle with. It's great for isolating bugs like "when indi is installed on a Win2K box where Outlook has not been configured, blah happens". Nifty stuff!
  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:13PM (#15053817) Homepage
    I'm really glad they're doing this. Other virtualizations systems that I've seen/tried really can't offer the full set of APIs and functionalities that a real Microsoft product offers. For example, things like Wine can't offer the full __DllRegisterExpiryCacheDelayTwelveSeven() functionality.

    Same goes for CPU-based stuff, like Virtual-PC. They just don't run Windows properly. The thing is, since Microsoft has the only operating system out there that is largely, or even majority, undocumented, it makes sense for them to provide the virtualization software. That way they can make it work on their own undocumented platform, while using other platforms' APIs to permit easy access to Linux, OSX, etc.

    This is a win-win-win for everyone!

    • You are comparing OS level emulators to virtual machines. The competition in this space is VMWare. Using this sort of software, you actually NEED Windows. You boot up a VM and then proceed to install an OS just like a real machine. This is massively unlike Wine and is somewhat different from VPC too.

      Also, remember, VM products aren't designed to run the latest and greatest games or something. They are designed to fill two niches, extremely secure testbeds for software where you want crashes to be easy
      • by sh4na (107124)

        Using this sort of software, you actually NEED Windows. You boot up a VM and then proceed to install an OS just like a real machine. This is massively unlike Wine and is somewhat different from VPC too.

        Where is VirtualPC different in this? Virtual Server *is* VPC, MS bought Connectix and changed the name of the product... VPC is an virtualization environment where you install windows (and other OSs), so you need windows to install it, I don't see the difference.

        If you say Microsoft's Virtual Server is con

  • VMware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sduic (805226) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:14PM (#15053818)
    This will enable use by all developers, software vendors and projects and includes open licensing compatible with those operating under open source licenses such as the GPL.

    Just how compatible must the license be be (I imagine a BSD type is pushing it)? Also, do they mean GPL 2 or 3?
  • Bah... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:14PM (#15053828)
    Must better coverage over at this blog [hishamrana.com]. Check out VMWare President Diane Greene's blog.

    And here is direct link to the Microsoft download [microsoft.com] page that requires registration.

    Direct link to the 32bit version: here [microsoft.com]. (no reg required)

    Direct link to the 64bit version: here [microsoft.com]. (no reg required)

    Happy downloading.
  • When you gave away MS Internet Explorer for free, many of us fell for it. Now we know better.
  • Stifling Innovation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Enrique1218 (603187)
    Is this yet another expample of Microsoft stifling innovation. Some had already mention the parallels to Netscape where Microsoft essentially knock them out of business witht the free release of IE. Then, let IE development stagger till it became riddle with holes and bugs. I worry that they are doing the same thing in virtualization.
  • Oh, yeah - I want Microsoft "supporting" my Linux installs, so they can count all my nonfunctioning instances against the Linux stats when they tell the world how Windows is "more reliable".
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    I wonder if they will ship a slightly degraded version, much as VMware is doing.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <.gro.uaeb. .ta. .sirromj.> on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:27PM (#15053880)
    Microsoft sees VMWare as their enemy because they are banking cash today. (Thou shalt have no other vendors other than Microsoft) However Xen is probably the bigger threat. And I'd say they understand that as well, otherwise they could have done the one thing that would have made an instant difference.

    Remember that when Xen was a research project at a university they had XP running in Xen because they had a source license for XP. However since said license didn't allow actually releasing anything derived from knowledge gained from that source they couldn't release the XP client drivers. Had Microsoft removed that restriction or, even better, provided Microsoft supported drivers Xen would likely crush VMWare in a few short years.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:06PM (#15054120) Homepage
      Microsoft sees VMWare as their enemy because they are banking cash today. (Thou shalt have no other vendors other than Microsoft) However Xen is probably the bigger threat.
      Absolutely Xen is the bigger threat, but more importantly, the new Intel VT and AMD Pacifica chips are the writing on the wall for both VMware and Microsoft. The technology in these new chips makes it possible for XenSource to come out with a version of Xen that will run Windows, not just modified Xen OSes. It won't be hard for other folks to do the same. This obviates all the hard R&D work that Connectix and VMware put into doing the same thing without hardware support. In the very near future, the ability to provide virtualized systems and run virtual machines will be a non-issue. The only race left is to deliver the best support and management tools.
  • I wonder now that it's OSS, now it can be thrown into the kernel and possibly be mounted like any other fs? Is this possible? Thanks.
  • by cowmix (10566) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hcramm]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:33PM (#15053915) Homepage
    I am using VMware server now.. and its great..

    All the work I do; making VMs, API based automation, etc.. works great on a Linux or Windows host.

    Why would you want to run VMs on only a Windows host when VMware gives you choice?
  • and looking at the open source software world, microsoft finally hit on the favourite price that consumers want
  • by Malor (3658) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:36PM (#15053926) Journal
    Note that VMWare is also giving away their Server product for free. For some reason, Slashdot hasn't been willing to run this story, even though it's important.

    It's a new product, still in beta... about equivalent to the GSX Server. They just released Beta 2 either today or yesterday. It's a _really_ good product. The current keys they're giving away expire, but they say the final version will also be free-as-in-beer.

    Basically, it'll do everything Workstation will, plus it allows you to see the consoles of virtual machines that are on another computer. It also gives you a fairly rudimentary web-based control panel, wherein you can start, stop, or restart particular VMs. You can also set up user accounts, and restrict access to particular machines appropriately. It's not ISP-class, but it'd be damn useful for QA teams or suchlike.
  • It seems like a good time for VMWare to open up it's disk format, now that Qemu has it completely reverse-engineered. :)
  • What about the Mac community? Microsoft should make Virtual PC free and VMware should have their product available on the Mac for the same price. If you're going to run other operating systems on a VM, Mac hardware is just as good as anyone else's.
    • Let's not forget that the battle here is for control of the enterprise use of windows. Before the wave of virtualization software, if you were a sysadmin on a company, you used whatever OS was handed down to you from up above, mostly, of course, windows.

      Multinationals institute a standard OS that sysadmins are stuck with, and you just can't justify changing OS's on anything unless it's critical for your business that you do it, and that's a tough sale indeed if any MS representative can go to the boss and s
  • Seems like a no brainer to me... anyone silly enough to be running MS VM is probably going to be running more silly MS operating systems with it, which means now MS can sell multiple (expensive) server licenses per box. Oh yeah, the VM is free. But you still have to buy Windows, in this case several times perhaps. If I was running that place I'd have been giving away the ability to purchase multiple OS per box all along.
  • Yup ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by hotspotbloc (767418) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:02PM (#15054091) Homepage Journal
    The first hit is always free. =)
  • So will you be able to run Windows in a virtual machine running on windows?

    The register piece makes it look like you'll only be able to run other OSs. Being able to virtualize Windows could be a Good Thing.

  • Microsoft supports Linux... head explodes... what next? Cats and dogs living together [irc-galleria.net]?
  • by FridayBob (619244)
    Giving away products for free in order to kill off another ISV that they decide to compete with. Of course, VMware has only itself to blame: this is what you get when you grow your market share enough to attract Microsoft's attention.

    But seriously, in a normal market with healthy competition among OS makers, Microsoft would leave VMware alone and be happy that they're doing so well, selling products that work with Windows. However, this is not a normal market and Microsoft is a monopolist by any definiti
  • I've been using VMWARE for years now at the workstation. Each client of mine that I support gets a "support vm" dedicated to them with the tools I need for their environment and a network stack that contains their own VPN configuration. That allows me to load a support VM for a client without having to stop what I'm doing on my own network, without having each client's VPN config interfere with the others, and also allows me to take along a DVD for each client so that if I have a problem with my laptop (
  • And is *that* GPL'd? The legalities that are going to surface when Microsoft finds out they will have to GPL whatever they put in Xen to change it. Including anything that belongs to someone else that they are licensing.
  • by bec1948 (845104) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:25PM (#15054227) Homepage
    I've been studying these technologies for a while now. It's only recently that processor power has reached the point that an x86 powered computer had the processor performance to overcome the inherent design limitation historically imposed by design decisions made by IBM and subsequently Microsoft and Intel that can make use of all the power available in the processors themselves. For a multitude of reasons (off topic) this power is irrelevant to most home users and business users of pcs. More importantly this power is irrelevant to the majority of server purposes. It's well known that most servers used in business are running at much less than 20% utilization levels. And that's with old boxes. This means that buying a new server with current technology results in a box running at levels as low as 5 or 10% utilization. Why bother? Enter virtualization. With virtualization a single box can replace 4, 7 16, 20 or more servers. Not that good for IntelDellIBMHP etc, but great for you and me. Less electricity needed, less cables, less everything. The only factor holding this back is licensing costs. If you can reduce those costs too, wow. Microsoft allows a single $4K Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition license to support up to four instances. If you don't have to pay extra for virtualization software, then the price starts to be very competitive with supported Linux licensing. More importantly it makes virtualization a standard way of doing things. The real question is what happens to the open source community when the development of free tools like Xen loose their support fee value when competing with a more mature platform that costs the same thing. We're not there yet, but it will happen. In a year or three.
  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:21PM (#15054520)
    VMWare started offing thier "VMWare Server" for free a few weeks ago. Microsoft is simply price matching the VMWare product.

    I'e been using QEMU which is GLP'd and does a few things neither of the above products do. However I have to admit that VMWare is slick. Good interface and easy to install.

  • Good thing (Score:3, Informative)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:27PM (#15054551) Homepage
    Ignoring the obvious VMWare comparison, this is really good for the Microsoft shops. Many shops use Virtual Server, but there are very few tools for working with the partition file format. On several occassions, I've wanted to copy a file to a virtual server without booting it up. In some cases, it was a server that couldn't boot up. It's really quite funny to insert a virtual Linux CD into a Microsoft Virtual Server so that you can access the hard drive. Plus, there's no good tools for building and creating virtual server images, which makes it nearly useless for enterprise testing or debugging.
  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:22AM (#15057668) Homepage Journal
    This may be the smartest thing Microsoft has ever done: Not because of what it means to current products, but because of what it means to future MS operating systems.

    The biggest reason for all the bugs, compatibility issues, and bloat in Microsoft's operating systems is backwards compatibility. And I have to admit that they've done a commendable job, given the tens of thousands of Windows applications out there, each with multiple versions. Not a perfect job, but I have a few ten-year-old applications running, unrecompiled, on my XP box at home.

    Microsoft wants Vista to be excellent, and to break new ground, but they are hobbled by binary compatibility issues with versions of Windows dating back to the 80386 -- and the 8086 in some cases. Instead of being excellent, Vista has been a nightmare. They can eliminate that nightmare, can dramatically reduce the size and complexity of Vista if they were just willing to jetison backwards binary compatibility. And with Virtual Server, they can do just that.

    Imagine: Your company lives or dies by an application written by a long-gone vendor, that runs great under NT 3.1 but crashes everything written since. No problem! Boot up NT under a virtual server and run it there. Got a proprietary database that only runs on Solaris x86? Same answer. Your kid's favorite game originally written for Windows 95? Hell, a computer built in 2007 won't even notice Win95's footprint.

    In fact, it probably makes sense for Microsoft to ship Vista with new versions of XP, NT, 95, Win3.1, DOS 5.0, and whatever else floats their boat, each recompiled with exactly one device driver for video, keyboard, mouse, disk, CD and network.

    So everybody's legacy system problems are solved by Virtual Server. Meanwhile, Vista itself provides a fast, stable, flexible platform for new applications to be built on, and Microsoft has a maintainable operating system, completely unencumbered by their past mistakes, that they can improve on for years to come.

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