A virtualized Windows Vista for $23 per year

  • Redmond (WA) – There is no doubt that Microsoft is late to the virtualization party, given the traction companies such as VMWare have gained in recent months. However, the company today outlined its “Dynamic IT” vision, a large-scale virtualization approach from the server to the client.

    Virtualization is not a new topic, but is an idea that has been around for more than four decades, even Microsoft admits. But still today, the technology is far from being mainstream and you won’t find many people who know the details and understand the implications and advantages of virtualization. Companies such as Sun have increased their efforts to push the virtualization talk, but spend most of their time explaining this technology and how it could improve especially enterprise IT.

    Now that Microsoft is getting more serious about virtualization, there is a new dynamic that could prompt more IT departments to take a closer look. Microsoft isn’t usually competing for second place and tries to make a big splash when entering a new market. To make sure that no one misses this new message, the company said that it has sent emails to 300,000 customers today highlighting this new strategy.

    On the surface, Microsoft’s strategy isn’t different from other virtualization promises: the company says it aims to deliver “the right computing resources to people virtually anytime and anywhere, and creating an IT environment that is more efficient, flexible and cost-effective.” The tools consist of client and server software as well as management solutions that allow users to “virtualize nearly all components of their desktop - including operating system, applications, data and preferences - and make them accessible from virtually anywhere and on virtually any machine.”

    Part of Dynamic IT is the firm’s “Windows Optimized Desktop solutions” that will include products such as Windows Vista, the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop and Terminal Services in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 for virtualization approaches. Besides the fact that installation can happen in real time and are more than likely to make the life of IT staff much easier, a license for the “Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop” goes for about $23, according to Microsoft. Office will be covered by a similar program: Microsoft said that the 2003 and 2007 versions of the Microsoft Office system are supported when running in both Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 and SoftGrid Application Virtualization 4.2. Pricing of the virtualized Office was not released.

    To help accelerate its entry into the virtualization market, Microsoft has acquired Calista, a company that develops technologies to display virtualized desktop 3D graphics. Microsoft said that Calista software will enable remote workers to see a Windows desktop screen without the need for high-end desktop hardware. The company also announced that it has created a “desktop virtualization alliance” with Citrix to co-market Windows Server 2008 and Windows Optimized Desktop software as well as Citrix’s XenDesktop and Presentation Server products.