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How Virtualization Led Microsoft to Support Linux 99

Posted by Zonk
from the tangled-web dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Why did Microsoft make the surprise announcement that it would support business customers who also use Linux? Because of the increasing importance of virtualization, Lee Gomes writes in the Wall Street Journal. 'Once businesses start using virtualization to cut back on the number of machines they need to buy, "a light bulb goes on over their head," says Tony Iams, who follows the field for Ideas International, an analyst group,' Gomes writes. 'Other uses become apparent, such as backing up data or easily adding processor power to a particular application as the need arises.' VMware pioneered the market, but now Microsoft is 'expected to offer sophisticated virtualization products in the next year or two,' Gomes writes. 'The company currently has a fairly rudimentary product, which was involved in its big Linux announcement earlier this month.'"
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How Virtualization Led Microsoft to Support Linux

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  • If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

    • You misspelled "buy them out"...
    • MS isn't joining anything.

      What they have done is figured out a way to get people to pay for running Linux.

      Instead of charging you for a copy of an OS... they'll charge you for every OS you run using their virtualization technology.

      Oh... and a copy for every Windows OS you run also.

      So, their pricing will probably be something like this:

      - price per virtualized partition: $250
      - price for Windows OS: $50
      - discount for using Windows inside virtualized partition: - $100

      Making the total cost for running virtualize
  • If you support virtualization and not allow Linux in the picture, then somone else will make a system that virtualizes Linux and Windows. Simple as that.
    • Like VMWare [vmware.com]?
      • Yes. People are going to want to Virtualize Linux and Windows If Microsoft can get them Use Windows as their Base system, and Use their Virtualizing app it is a lot better for them then Having people Install Linux with Vmware. (While I think it is better for the Consumer)
        • Yeah... But I also think that it's worth keeping an eye out for MS' answer to VMWare's hypervisor-style server product where the host OS is purpose designed to allocate resources to guest images and not much else. When this hits the street, windows as the base system will be irrelevant.

          Making VS2005R2 a free download is a good start, and the required response to VMWare making their equivalent product free.

          I agree wholeheartedly with the last point, this is fantastic for the consumer.
          • Becuase that's all ESX Server does. It's a host OS who's sole purpose is to manage the virtual machines running on it.
          • I also think that it's worth keeping an eye out for MS' answer to VMWare's hypervisor-style server product

            I think Hypervisor is going to be more than just a server product. It, or something similar is the only real answer to MS ongoing security and stability problems with the NT line OSs.

            I think that what they'll eventually do is release Singularity, or whatever its successor is called with Hypervisor tech built in. Singularity will then host an instance of the current XP/Vista to run legacy Win32/64 so

    • No, the real reason is that eventually someone will figure out a way to run Linux anyway, so they might as well get marketing value out front.

      See Xbox.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:31PM (#15167018)
    Microsoft is 'expected to offer sophisticated virtualization products in the next year or two,' Does Microsoft's definition of "sophisticated" include inducing random data corruption in any non-Microsoft OS? I think I'd be more a lot more comfortable getting my virtualization products from somebody that lets me look at the source code.
    • by VGR (467274) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:32PM (#15167549)
      I don't think that deserves to be labeled flamebait.

      This is something Microsoft has already done with other products they could not otherwise embrace, extend and extinguish: They simply make it look bad.

      Like distributing Java 1.1 for years. Or having pages return degraded content for Opera browsers.

      I don't know that they'll introduce actual data corruption, but I can certainly envision the VM doing a number of things very slowly, particularly if it's running Linux or emulating functionality that Linux is known to frequently rely on. It may not even be deliberately hobbled functionality, but rather "lax support" for some key functionality.
      • To give a more concrete example of your "hobbling Linux under Virtual Server", they could provide superior "elightenments" (OS patches/drivers that allow the kernel to talk directly to the virtualization software rather than to the virtualized hardware) in Windows to those in other OSes. I wouldn't consider that malicious, though, unless they attempt to keep secret the interfaces for doing this so that it can't be added to Linux by a third party.

    • Does Microsoft's definition of "sophisticated" include inducing random data corruption in any non-Microsoft OS?

      More that likely it involves some device driver needing to be installed on the "guest" OS (say... Linux) requiring elevated permissions (say... root) thus allowing for a backdoor into the system similar to the one they have in Windows.
  • by CogDissident (951207) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:32PM (#15167032)
    They know that open source can be good for them sometimes. While many of you might be huge linux advocates, the fact remains that many of the bigger companies still use windows server solutions. Its not so much that they support linux, is that now that its a viable solution, if they can blend themselves into linux, but still get you to pay for M$ products, then they come out ahead.

    The simple fact is that M$ wants to keep its name in the big buisnesses because 10,000 licenses a year is a big deal, plus those big boys of buisness also influence their workers to be familiar with windows, which leads their families to purchase windows, and so on and so on.

    • by kebes (861706)
      You're absolutely correct. MS is doing this because they want to capture market share.

      The interesting thing (to me) is whether this is a "MS takes over yet another niche" phenomenon or whether this is a "MS desperately trying to slow loss of market share." If they don't support Linux at all, they will lose a certain number of people who decide to go fully Linux to suit their needs. By offering compatible virtualization, MS can also recapture this market. On the other hand, building in this compatibility wil
    • It also might have something to do with the fact that VMWare runs on several other OSes as well negating the need for at least one Windows license per desktop or server.
    • While many of you might be huge linux advocates, the fact remains that many of the bigger companies still use windows server solutions.

      Most of us are supporters of the best tool for the job. And as far as companies using windows server solutions. Well yes. For ancilliarlly/non critical services (e-mail/ftp/web etc). And no e-mail/ftp/web is not critical for most companies. All that is to support a core business function. For core systems (database/payroll/hr) it will be Linux or UNIX. Every time.

    • The advantage MS has is that they are the only people that can make changes to the NT kernel. Their virtualization products are written by people in the same division as the NT kernel team, so they can work very closely to ensure that Windows runs optimally atop Virtual Server. No other virtualization product will be able to run Windows better than Virtual Server, and Virtual Server only runs on Windows. If MS then publishes documentation on the interfaces between the guest kernel and the virtualization sof

  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@terral[ ]c.net ['ogi' in gap]> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:35PM (#15167059)
    What about IBM? Seems VMWare is about 40 years late.
    • That is the problem if you are too far ahead of the curve. Virtulization Back then was noticeably slower and religated to big and expensive computers. Now we can do this quickly and cheaply on new Systems. Especially now that Computers with Duel cores are becoming common. If MS proven anything is that Being first doesn't mean you will win.
    • VM/386 and VMWare? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mariner28 (814350)
      Didn't VMWare have its start as the IBM product VM/386? It was released in the early 90's, but at the time IBM really didn't know what to do with it - they had their hands full with trying to quit alienating OS/2 developers...

      Didn't VM/360 come about in the early 70's? Is it really over 40 years old?
  • Copycats (Score:4, Funny)

    by thegattaca (927567) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:45PM (#15167148)
    We swear! It has nothing to do with Boot Camp or VMWare!
  • How much support? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bastardadmin (660086) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:46PM (#15167156) Journal
    Before everyone gets all smiley and happy about this, what depth of support are they offering?
    Are we talking OS configuration and administration support, or merely: "Is your Linux VM booting?" level of support?

    I've heard conflicting reports about this. Can anyone set the record straight? I'm asking you, MS Virtual Server team...
    • Re:How much support? (Score:3, Informative)

      by w3bgeek (530334)
      While I'm not part of the team, I do use VS on a regular basis and have a bit of insight on this topic.

      First off, a little about how Linux support is accomplished. Virtual Server and Virtual PC use a package of "additions" which are installed in the "guest" virtual machine for performance and useability optimizations. The additions are basically device drivers optimized for for the virtualized hardware used inside the "guest". WIth luck and persistance, you've always been able to run Linux under VPC and
  • Vaporware (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#15167234)
    Microsoft is 'expected to offer sophisticated virtualization products in the next year or two,'

    It's all vaporware. Vaporware until it actually ships -- if ever.

    And in Microsoft's case, it's vaporware until version 3.0 at least.

    Or until they buy a company that already knows how to do it properly.

    • You can download Virtual Server from Microsoft today, for free. I've been using it for over a year.
    • "And in Microsoft's case, it's vaporware until version 3.0 at least."

      Oh come now, that's not true! It wasn't until Windows _2000_ that people actually considered the OS vaguely usable (and I use 'vaguely' in the loosest sense!).
    • Virtual Server 2005 has been out for some time. Infact it's gone SP1 already. And altough it's had no direct support for linux it would work.
      But just like any virtulization software the OS dosn't perfomre at it's best. ( The same is true for vmware until you install the guest os addin for video and mouse)

      I am currently beta testing the vs2005 linux additions pack, which add's linux drivers for scsi, video, mouse drivers, co-ordinated shut down, time sync. Of course the only linux distributions officaly supo
      • What Microsoft's products are missing is support for the latest-and-greatest hardware-supported virtualization systems. Both Intel and AMD have (incompatible, competing) technologies in their latest CPUs which allow a lot of the grunt work for virtualization to be done in hardware rather than by emulating devices. The open source virtualization product Xen [xensource.com] can make use of this through its hypervisor [wikipedia.org].

        Microsoft is currently working on its own hypervisor-based product, but I seem to remember that they are tyi

  • "The fact that Microsoft is now supporting, if only grudgingly, that sort of mix shows how much things can change even while staying the same."

    It's called, Tao. Don't just know it or acknowledge it. Understand it and Let it flow.

    Linux way is the Tao way.
    • I believe following a Wue Wei in this matter and seeking a Tao of OS would dictate that you did not decide either OS, but rather whichever OS more naturally handled a task would be the one that was chosen.

      By advocating that only one OS is "the way" you are denying that fact that the Tao is in all things, and ergo, all things are part of the Tao.
      • I believe following a Wue Wei in this matter and seeking a Tao of OS would dictate that you did not decide either OS, but rather whichever OS more naturally handled a task would be the one that was chosen.

        By advocating that only one OS is "the way" you are denying that fact that the Tao is in all things, and ergo, all things are part of the Tao.


        And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?
  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:07PM (#15167332) Journal
    Microsoft wants to remain relevant with the OEMs. The way to keep that secure is to make sure that OEM will still offer Windows with their servers. Virtualization's emergence may redefine the importance of the operating system. It is spreading from high end server right down to the desktop. Microsoft will be keen to support competitors operating systems including Linux because Linux certianly will support Windows via VMWare/Xen. Otherwise, OEMs will begin bundling Linux over Windows with the knowlegde that it can always be install after market as a virtual OS. When that happens Microsoft loses clout with the OEMs which may trickle down to destops. Also, the other reason is to compete to be the host OS and not the virtual one because the customer may rely more on that OS than the virtual one and is more likely to invest more in it.
  • by cerelib (903469) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:11PM (#15167367)
    Here is a link to a video from MS virtualization developers:

    Channel 9: Virtualization [msdn.com]

  • by Churla (936633) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:15PM (#15167406)
    You will be able to tell they're ready to make serious money on this when they offer a cut rate discounted license for "Windows 2003 server, virtual machine edition" On top of "Windows Virtual Server"

    This way, you get a VMware ESX style OS to handle virtual servers on the box which would presumably come with some set number of windows server licenses, and a per virtual server licensing option for windows running on virtualization options other than MS's own.

    Sell in option would be to do server consolidation for companies. The pitch? "Let us consolidate these 10 servers onto one box for you, you save the yearly maintenance costs on 9 servers, and we credit your account part of what those 2003 server licenses are costing on all of them to help subsidize the virtualization software with double that number of virtual windows servers licensed on it."

    The potential is here for it to be truly insidious.

  • virtualization is great (in theory), but will MS be offering write support for it's archaic and flawed NTFS without sacrificing transfer speed? What about ReiserFS and ext3FS support? Instead of converting completely to Linux, companies will pay for the Windows license, use whatever they want inside the shell, and the information therein is (presumably) accessible to Windows users. I'm going to venture a guess and say that MS is performing triage, advertising software (which VMware already sells) that wi
  • Why did Microsoft make the surprise announcement that it would support business customers who also use Linux

    A surprise? Ok, if I knew they were going to do this over two years ago, how did Virtual Server's support of Linux become a surprise?

    The *nix subsystem is a BSD variant in Windows as well now, and if Linux gains more popularity, look for a Linux subsystem running on the NT core.

    However with Virtual Server support, it is simple economics... Support Linux Images running in Windows 2003, so people that a
  • Gotta love the clueless mainstream press. If Dell didn't use virtual servers, they would have had to move to new offices. This special technology squeezes ten boxes into one. Yeah, that's the ticket. But that one box doesn't do the work of ten. Nope. It still does the work of one. I guess no one wants to tell the guy at Dell that he didn't need 100 servers after all. 10 would have done the work. Not that the author would or could explain that bad news to the potential victims of the hype fest. The real pro
    • I realize I could just ask Google, but why not ask humans at Slashdot? How much does the virtualization cost us. It's clear that 10 boxes can't do the work of 100. They can only do the work of 10. But how much does the virtualization absorb? Is it 10% so the 10 boxes really do the work of 9? Or is it worse?

      And what's a bit troubling to me is that this is the second layer of bureaucracy in the machines. The OS already has semi-virtualization turned on to keep the different processes from running into each
    • Computers are more powerful now than then.

      In 1996, a "top-end" computer would be a Pentium Pro. At 200Mhz.

      10 times this would be 2Ghz (and, yes, I am making the mistake of just comparing clock rate, but I don't have much time).

      The job of 10 1996 computers can be merged into one computer today (actually, more, but lets stay simple).

      Those 10 systems used rack space, power, a/c, etc.

      The problem is that if each of those 10 computers had a task (and we presume they did, or they would not have been deployed) and
  • Been there... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by besenslon (918690) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:59PM (#15167809)

    but now Microsoft is 'expected to offer sophisticated virtualization products in the next year or two.

    So, what's new. We've seen it before.

    1. Say that you are going to release a "new", "feature rich", "superior", etc. product after an year.

    2. Businesses stop buy competing products, thus killing the competitors.

    3. Release a crappy product, stolen (or bought) from someone, and cripple it more.

    4. ?????? (Balmer jumps, etc.)

    5. Profit

  • Oh, crap. (Score:3, Funny)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx . b c.ca> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:10PM (#15167905) Journal
    I had a bet with a guy I knew that this would not happen before Microsoft started becoming less popular and was bought out by some other company.
  • Pardon my ignorance, but the only reason I run Windows at home is for games, like Call of Duty.

    Does this virtualization stuff mean I can now switch to Linux and run a virtualized Windows session on it to play my Windows-based games?

    Steve
  • by Blob Pet (86206)
    Then WinFS was stripped out of Windows Vista because the performance was so horrible. WinFS will supposedly ship around the same time as Windows Vista now, as an add-on. Or maybe it will be later than that. Maybe it will never ship. Who the heck knows? Who cares anymore?

    it's funny because it's true

  • I remember downloading the Microsoft Virtual PC product from the company MSDN subscription a few months back to try it out and the performance really tanked on my dev workstation. It was just not fast enough to do any serious development tasks inside the virtual instance. Perhaps if the software were installed on a more powerful machine and then configured to accept terminal server connections, but I never bothered to go that far. I already have three decent older servers retired from production for my test
  • The true question that should be asked around this VT hype is when (oh when??) will Intel start shipping the hardware that would support their VT technology. I've been going all over the net trying to find a clue for a stated roadmap of Intel to provide the peripherals (BIOS, chipset) for a true VT @ XEN "desktop server" ;) Some insights? Intel?
  • by ratta (760424)
    I hope that the kqemu modules (that gives qemu true virtualization throug a kernel module) will get some founds and get opensource soon :), so that at least there will be some competition. I find strange that people talk a lot about Xen and friends while kqemu is not being considered at all.
  • Rapidly becoming the over-hyped buzzword of 2006 :D

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