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Microsoft Hypes Hyper-V, Launches App Virtualization and Anti-Rootkit Tools

Microsoft made two significant virtualization announcements today: that its hypervisor will be a separate product rather than a feature of Windows Server 2008, and that the next version of its application virtualization product is now
in beta
. Both have also been given more generic names. The hypervisor changes from Viridian (named after a planet in Star Trek) to Hyper-V, while app virtualization changes from SoftGrid to Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5.

Microsoft has spent two years touting the hypervisor as an integral par
of Windows Server, so the change is significant. The pricing is even
more interesting: Hyper-V Server will cost only $28, whereas the Windows
Server 2008 that runs on top of it (or without it) starts at $971 for
the Standard Edition. Microsoft also sells them as a package, but there
are no discounts for buying both together. That will cost you $999, the
same as Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. Higher-end editions of
Server 2008 without Hyper-V are also priced at exactly $28 less than the
comparable Server 2003 editions.

So why unbundle Hyper-V from Server 2008? Microsoft says it's about customer choice. That makes some sense, especially if the customers are makers of virtual appliances. The $28 is retail, so appliance makers will pay a lot less thanks to volume and OEM discounts.

But it may also be a pre-emptive move against anti-trust complaints. VMWare can still complain about predatory pricing, but open-source gives Microsoft a clear defense: $28 looks almost extortionate when you can download Xen for $0.

Of course, VMWare isn't competing with the free version of Xen. Its competing with Citrix, VirtualIron and now Oracle, all of whom layer management software on top of the hypervisor. It remains to be seen how Microsoft's tools will compare to all these.

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