Microsoft Virtually Supporting Linux

    April 4, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The Windows maker announced at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo it would make the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 available at no charge to customers.

In 1998, the open source world was abuzz with the revelation of the Halloween documents. Penned by a product manager at the behest of management, these memos illustrated the competitive threat Microsoft perceived from the open source community, and suggested an “embrace, extend, and extinguish” approach to Linux.

Fast forward to 2006. Microsoft opened the Boston 2006 edition of LinuxWorld with announcements that, had they been suggested to Jim Allchin eight years ago, may have earned the offending Microsoftie a one-way trip to the parking lot.

Microsoft has decided to make its Virtual Server product available at no cost. The free download from the Virtual Server website for version 2005 RC2 enables multiple operating systems to run concurrently on a single machine.

Today, “multiple operating systems” includes Linux distributions too. The additions to Virtual Server for Red Hat Linux and Novell SuSE Linux have been made available to the public, according to Zane Adam, director of product marketing in the Windows Server Division at Microsoft.

He discussed the release in a Q&A statement from Microsoft, where he cited “virtualization technology as a key stepping stone toward the vision of self-managing dynamic systems.”

Adam also announced the availability of technical support options for customers who choose Virtual Server to host Linux and Linux-based applications:

We 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. 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.

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.

To summarize this, Microsoft has essentially embraced the open source business model of offering paid support options for a free product, and extended it to Linux. Eight years ago, that would have been unthinkable.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.