CyberTech Rambler

July 17, 2006

Virtualization War heats up … leading to clever marketing by Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:05 pm

I’m not really sure about the chronological order of past events, but we had at least four volleys being hurl at the competition: VMWare (the market leader) hurled two volley with setting VMWare Player Free and publishing the Hard Disk Format and Virtual Machine Interface (VMI). Microsoft also hurl two similar volleys by setting Virtual Server price to zero and publishing the Hard Disk format specification. Up to this point, from a developer viewpoint, VMWare has the advantage in ensnaring users because of its popularity and the availability of VMI. From a end user view point, however, there are important hurdles: On VMWare, you can run the Virtual Machines on your desktop, but you cannot create Virtual Machines. Thus you have to rely on pre-configured free virtual machines. For virtual server, you need to have Windows Server to take advantage of the free offer. Still overall, advantage to VMWare since most people do not have Windows Server. Whatever the case, the whole comparison feels like a match on whose disability is worse as it is comparing crippleware with crippleware.

In the past week alone, the face of virtualization changed. First Microsoft is freed Virtual PC for everyone, a few days before VMWare announce that VMWare Server is free. Theoritically, Microsoft’s move means everyone can run virtual machines easily, while VMWare’s approach means one can now create virtual machines.

Having said that, it is important to note that, to stay at the right side of the law, for most users, it means one can only create Linux virtual machines for free (as in free beer) only. Use of other operating systems in virtual machines will require licensing consent from vendors of the operating system. One of the most sought-after operating systems, especially were end users are concerned, is Windows.

This is where I see potential Antitrust concerns coming in. Bar very unlikely circumstance, VMWare can never hope to be able to provide low cost or free Windows Virtual Machine, something Microsoft can. At present, Microsoft can, with a stroke of a pen, gives away free licenses to run Windows Operating Systems on virtual machines for its virtualization product.

The good news is, Microsoft is not, I repeat, not doing that. It is giving Volume Licensees the rights to create Windows virtual machine. However, this is not tied to its own virtualization product.

Rather, the rights to create and run Windows Virtual machine is cleverly marketted by Microsoft as a benefit of its loathed “Software Assurance” licensing scheme.

This move is a recognition that virtualization has so far either been a geek or IT-literate person playground or something that only corporation is interested in deploying. This does not mean the average joe user cannot benefit from virtualization, but they are simply unaware or not technologically savvy eough to do it. This might change.

1 Comment »

  1. MS Software Ass. upgrades, spy-wary of Vonage (an

    Hello… Is it me you’re looking for? Or is it IT Blogwatch, in which Microsoft’s Software Assurance gets “better” and people point spyware fingers at Vonage. Not to mention how to cook breakfast on a Macbook…

    Trackback by Computerworld's IT Blogwatch — July 18, 2006 @ 11:37 am | Reply

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