Redmond's virtualization shift continues

More product and pricing policy changes as Microsoft aims to adapt to a world in which software moves freely from one physical machine to another. Separately, VMware gets Microsoft certification.

Tech Culture

Gearing up for a big virtualization event next week, Microsoft on Wednesday announced another round of changes to its lineup of virtualization policies and products.

Among a new series of changes being rolled out is the ability for businesses to allow their corporate PC image to be run in a virtual machine on PCs owned by employees or contractors.

To pave the way for this, Microsoft announced that either option is now covered under an existing licensing program that costs $110 per PC per year. Workers with desktop PCs that only need occasional remote access to their work PC image can do so under a new license that costs $23 extra per PC per year, provided the computer in question is also part of Microsoft's Software Assurance program.

These changes, according to Microsoft's Scott Woodgate, are being made not so much because lots of businesses are doing these things today, but rather to try to make sure that it is not Microsoft's licensing policies that are stifling businesses' creativity.

In another licensing shift, Microsoft will enable hosters to stream versions of a third-party software using its technology. Of course, businesses will still need to make sure the third-party software in question can be properly licensed in that way.

Microsoft also announced a new version of its SoftGrid technology, now known as App-V (short for application virtualization). Although hardware virtualization, which moves computing tasks from one server to another, gets most attention, Woodgate said that application virtualization is poised to be big on the desktop.

"Application virtualization for us is as important on the desktop as hardware virtualization is on the server," Woodgate said.

Separately, VMware noted on Wednesday that its VMware ESX hypervisor was certified under the recently announced Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program, which means that Microsoft will now support software running inside a VMware virtual machine as it would if the program was running outside a hypervisor. Previously, Microsoft had typically required that any problem a customer encountered be reproduced outside a hypervisor in order to get support--a major thorn in the side of customers that rely heavily on virtualization.

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