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Microsoft Makes Virtualization Play

Microsoft's acquisition of application virtualization startup Softricity, announced today, gives it a powerful tool that can come in handy if it is to challenge EMC's VMware as a server virtualization force. But some users question whether Microsoft will make the best use of its new technology.

VMware has moved to the front of the pack in server virtualization, while Microsoft is developing its own virtualization platform. Softricity gives it a quick fix in one area of virtualization. But some Softricity customers hope Microsoft will support Softricity's current line instead of making it disappear inside the Windows operating system.

Softricity's SoftGrid Desktop Virtualization Platform loads an application's registry settings, DLLs, .ini files, and other components the application needs the first time the user requests it. (See Tacit, Softricity Extend Apps). The code is cached on the client PC for subsequent requests. This lets admins install and centrally manage applications and send them directly to user's desktops.

Microsoft disclosed the deal today on the eve of its annual Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) along with several other virtualization announcements.

Microsoft didn't reveal its exact plans for Softricity, but spokespeople expect the technology will help users migrate to Vista, Microsoft's next commercial operating system due out later this year.

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