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"If You Can't Extinguish It, Embrace It" – Microsoft Launches Linux Love-In

Redmond Makes a 180 Degree Turn

From LinuxWorld 2006 in Boston, MA, SYS-CON Media Group Publisher & Editorial Director Jeremy Geelan reports: In a remarkable 180-degree turn by Redmond, Bill Hilf (pictured), head of Microsoft's open-source and Linux lab, has given a keynote address here at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Boston about making proprietary programs such as those produced by Microsoft interoperate better with open source software.

Hilf, remembered by many who attended LinuxWorld last year as "the guy in a Stormtrooper outfit" (he tried to grasp the nettle of Microsoft's Evil Empire reputation by coming on stage to the "Imperial March"), also announced that Microsoft will support the use of Linux as part of its Virtual Server program, which partitions a computer server to run multiple operating systems.

Microsoft is also making Virtual Server free, Hilf announced, and last but not least has teamed with the developers of the open source Xen product.

LinuxWorld has never hosted a more extraordinary or unexpected set of announcements.

Zane Adam, director of product marketing in the Windows Server Division at Microsoft, commented:

"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," Adamn continued, "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," he added, "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."

Microsoft, Adam explained, sees virtualization technology as a key stepping stone toward the vision of self-managing dynamic systems:

"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."
Asked how Microsoft will support Linux in Virtual Server, Adam replied that it will support Linux running as a guest in Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 from both a technology perspective and a 24-hour technical support perspective.

"This will help customers safely consolidate their Linux-based applications on Virtual Server," he said.

"With this expanded support, we’re providing software that they can install in the Linux guest operating systems to realize significant improvements and usability enhancements with those guests. Initially, we’re supporting multiple Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell, which represent two of the most widely used commercial Linux distributions."

But that’s only the start. We’ve made a long-term commitment to make sure that non-Windows operating systems can be run in a supported manner, both on top of Virtual Server and our future virtualization products. The technical support piece is an important part of that commitment. Customers who have questions regarding the interoperability with Linux guest operating systems and the virtual machine add-ins will be able to access the standard Microsoft support process."

Microsoft, Adam said, created software to allow its customers to extract more value from their existing investments by adding new capabilities - in this case, virtual machine add-ins to Linux guest operating systems.

"This software improves the usability of Linux running in a virtual machine environment on top of Virtual Server 2005 R2," he said. "The additions for Red Hat Linux and Novell SuSE Linux will be available as a download at no charge. We are also demonstrating the software at LinuxWorld in AMD’s booth, running Red Hat Linux guest within Virtual Server 2005 R2."

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
VHD Evaluation Request 04/05/06 09:04:27 AM EDT

Microsoft claims it is seeing momentum around its Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format licensing programme. Apparently it has more than 45 vendors signed up in this royalty-free licence programme, which is more than double the number it had six months ago. Anyone out there taking part who can tell us more?

gentoo 04/05/06 08:09:52 AM EDT

you can't just go to a website and download the components required for Linux guest os's. To get hold of the components, you have to register with Microsoft Connect, and then apply to participate in the "Virtual Machine Additions for Linux" program.

John Abbott 04/05/06 07:08:24 AM EDT

It was a necessary move - I've been hearing from virtualization players in the Linux camp for some time that a key customer requirement is for both Linux and Windows support - not just one or the other.

Interop Age 04/05/06 07:07:21 AM EDT

So, is it more efficient to host Windows on top of Linux or vice versa?

queZZtion 04/05/06 06:31:36 AM EDT

Microsoft will provide Linux support plug-ins on Windows?!? Is this April 5, or April 1?

Strange But True 04/05/06 06:23:08 AM EDT

What next? Will Linus turn up in Redmond? Will Saddam Hussein join Amnesty International? Will Larry Ellison be declared the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?