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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 yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:07PM (#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.)

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

    by LunaticTippy (872397) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:07PM (#15053773)
    Is this free as in beer or free as in screensaver?

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:15PM (#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,
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:26PM (#15053872) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if they will ship a slightly degraded version, much as VMware is doing.
  • Re:Xen??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:28PM (#15053887)
    No, Xen has purchased Microsoft in a really, really, REALLY leveraged buyout... oops, it's not April 1 anymore, is it?

    Unfortunately, Xen hasn't learned one of the prime lessons of history: partnering with Microsoft is merely the first step towards being put out of business by Microsoft.

  • by hey! (33014) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:30PM (#15053906) Homepage Journal

    I thought so too, but it also seems that VMWare started the price war when they started giving away VMWare Player.


    Which arguably they wouldn't do in a competitive operating system market.
  • by Krach42 (227798) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:32PM (#15053909) Homepage Journal
    More like desperate. They're only doing this because Xen's eating their lunch.

    No, it's because the Virtualization market is heating up. And it's likely VMWare that's causing Microsoft to sweat, not Xen, or any F/OSS alternative.

    You used to see this back in the day when local, and ma' and pa' shops roamed the earth. For instance, one bakery would have a monopoly in the area, when a new one would pop up, and start undercutting the other's prices. Then they'd retaliate, and you'd end up with a flying storm of lowering prices, until one of them were forced out of business.

    At this point, the price would be rock bottom, and the winner, would gradually increase prices until they were making a good profit again, but generally it worked out well for the community that was shopping there.

    Of course, the whole problem comes in that to startup a bakery you don't need billions of dollars and years of development to produce your product. Microsoft is now sitting in a practically unchallengable monopoly position. When monopolies hit this point, it's my opinion that controls should be leveraged to ensure that they're not gouging their captive audience.
  • by cowmix (10566) <mmarch@g m a i l . c om> on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:33PM (#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?
  • by know1 (854868) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:34PM (#15053917)
    and looking at the open source software world, microsoft finally hit on the favourite price that consumers want
  • by Null Nihils (965047) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:36PM (#15053928) Journal
    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 Professor_UNIX (867045) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:38PM (#15053942)
    When you gave away MS Internet Explorer for free, many of us fell for it. Now we know better.

    Most likely the "free" Virtual Server will require Windows 2003 Server which is very expensive. "free" VMWare Server is $0 running on GNU/Linux.

  • /. did cover it.

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/03/132 0216 [slashdot.org]

    Damn I am defending /. the world must be coming to an end.

    I LIKE PICKLES!
  • by killjoe (766577) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:46PM (#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.

  • by SilentChris (452960) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:31PM (#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.
  • by TrancePhreak (576593) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:53PM (#15054369)
    VMWare Player and now Server have been free for a while. So in all actuality, MS is just adjusting costs to market normals.
  • Re:Goodbye VMWare (Score:4, Insightful)

    by omega9 (138280) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:07PM (#15054449) Homepage
    Why? I don't understand the motivation to switch just for switching's sake. VMWare Server was announced as a free product before Virtual Server. If you're running ESX and plan on moving to Virtual Server because it's free then you also plan on losing a lot of functionality.

    If you've already got an infrastructure built in VMWare, how does it make sense to spend the labor leaving it for no good reason?
  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:24PM (#15054537)
    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 Server and two installationf of MS SQL sevrer. How many licenses must you buy? Four for Win2k3, 2 for MS SQL.

    No wonder they're giving it away.

  • Re:Why on earth... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:01PM (#15054714) Journal
    Here's a reason why (although there are many others): I recently built a spanking new box and ordered FC4, Debian and Gentoo from FrozenTech. FC4 x86_64 had trouble with the video, FC4 x86 worked fine but kept freezing every 20 minutes with no useful log messages. Debian x86_64 didn't like my wireless drivers, including the native src drivers from the manufacturer. Debian x86 also had problems with my wireless card.

    Solution: if you can't get drivers for your hardware, use VMWare to abstract the Windows drivers to Linux. My wireless card looks like a regular 100mbps Ethernet card to Linux, which needless to say works great. With a decent processor and 2gigs of ram, I'm very, very happy with FC4 under VMWare at 1900x1600.

    If there's one thing that Windows is unbeatable at, it's adapting proprietary drivers to Linux!

  • by LordEd (840443) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:03PM (#15054983)
    If you have to agree to an EULA, then it's not free.
    Under that argument, by using open source software and agreeing to the GPL, it isn't free either.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:16PM (#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."

  • by kiddx (965891) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:41PM (#15055132)
    While I really like VMware and think its better than MS product, the MS product is catching up. The free part was done by VMware first and MS is simply responding. Dont forget that MS does support virtualization. If you look at their new licensing for 2003 R2 they support 4 server licenses for 1 server license purchased on each physical machine. This is a very good deal! So now you can purchase one server license for each 'physical' machine and run 4 vm's on each one (or combination of).

    The supporting linux simply means that there is default settings for linux enviornments much like vmware and if you call MS because you are having a virtualization issue or driver issue in linux on Virtual Server they will work with you on solving it.

    This again is nice, because you can get the flexibility of linux running on the same box as Windows. So you get the nice domain integration and AD security model (or easy anyway) and you can still drop a linux VM on top of it for file/print or to do some other tasks. It looks like MS idea here is to simply say run anything virtualization product or software you want but run it under the Windows o/s. To be honest, I have dozens of clients running 2000/2003 server as the host and several VM's in vmware. The boxes untouched and vlan'ed (you can vlan the host and not the guest) are very very stable.
  • by cadence007 (687957) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:38PM (#15055587)
    Free VMWare Server, Beta 2 was released today.. possibly this fixes some of the bugs you've encountered.

    I don't consider it a bad thing, if the only "good" thing that comes of VMWare's offering causes Microsoft to release its server as free also.

  • Re:My question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supersnail (106701) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:44AM (#15056355)
    Well if it was a Korean form giving away DVD players for free, or,
    an Indian giving away steel cheap. It would be (and is) considered illegal
    dumping. So whay not for software?
  • by birder (61402) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @07:09AM (#15056728) Homepage
    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 into ESX for the datacenter workhorses.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller

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