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Microsoft Opens Up Vista Virtualization

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Microsoft, still trying to find its way in the new world of virtualizationlicensing, has changed its mind again on Windows Vista, and now says it willallow more versions of the desktop OS to be virtualized.

Last June,Microsoft saidthat only the business versions of Vista--Business and Ultimate--wereeligible to be made into virtual machines (VMs). The revelation came thesame day Redmond was set to announce that two home versions--Home Basicand Home Premium--were going to be made able, confusing industry watcherswith the sudden switch.

Monday, Microsoft reversed course again andadded Home Basic and Home Premium to the virtualization-eligible list. Theannouncement means that all versions of Vista are now available forvirtualization purposes.

Virtualization is the process of abstractingsoftware from the underlying hardware. It allows multiple operating systemsto be run on one physical computer, or multiple instances of the same OS tobe run on a single box. Virtualization also allows mobility, allowing aremote worker, for example, to keep a virtual copy of his or her OS on a USBdrive, which can then be loaded onto another computer.

Microsoft willpresumably make the official announcement during a Webcast on Tuesday. It'sin the midst of a two-day "Virtualization Deployment Summit" inRedmond.

That wasn't the only virtualization-related news to come outof the meeting. Microsoft announced the acquisition of San Jose-basedvirtualization vendor CalistaTechnologies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Calista'ssoftware is concerned with improving the virtualized desktop experience. VMstypically run slower than a traditional desktop, owing to the additionalsoftware layer between it and the hardware, creating a substantial amount ofprocessing overhead and, subsequently causing a performancehit.

Calista helps Vista and other Windows desktop VMs perform moreefficiently, so the user experience is closer to a native implementation.According to Calista's Website, it's specially effective at enhancingmultimedia uses like 3-D, Windows Media Player and other graphics-intensiveapplications.

Opening up the rest of the Vista line helps Microsoft'sbottom line in several ways. First, each virtualized copy of Vista requiresa license, meaning more money in Redmond's licensing coffers. Second, havingmore copies of Vista available pushes forward the OSes' adoption rate,something Microsoft has been pushing hard to do since Vista was firstintroduced more than a year ago.

Although Microsoft has continuallytouted Vista's strong sales numbers, it's clear, both from anecdotal evidence and actionsfrom Microsoft and other vendors, that Vista continues to struggle in themarketplace.

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About the author: Becky Nagel is executive editor, Web Initiatives for the 1105 Redmond Media Group and the editor of Redmondmag.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is a contributor to Application Development Trends. She is the editor of ADT's sister sites CertCities.com, TCPmag.com and Redmondmag.com, and is co-editor of RCPmag.com. You can contact her at bnagel@1105media.com.

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