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Microsoft To Launch, License Virtualization For Longhorn

In an attempt to elevate its standing in the virtual market, Microsoft plans to release Virtual Server Service Pack 1 later this year and, in the next generation of Windows, make its .vhd format open and extensible, said CEO Steve Ballmer Wednesday.

Speaking at the Microsoft Management Summit, Ballmer announced the beta release of Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 and plans for new virtualization support in Longhorn--including opening up the virtual server format for extensibility and introducing "smaller, thinner hypervisor" technology. Ballmer characterized both steps as significant.

Microsoft also plans to support Intel Virtualization Technology, formerly code-named Vanderpool. It also will use virtualization technology acquired from Connectix to enhance and simplify corporate re-imaging of desktops in the next version of Windows. Desktop re-imaging is considered a key area of improvement in Windows management.

"A major area of increased investment is virtualization. If you think of the future, improvements in virtualization technology and enhancements to virtualization will be a key enabler of our enterprise management suite for driving the cost of ownership out of the Microsoft platforms you take care of," Ballmer told attendees of the Las Vegas conference. "It is one of the most significant investments in R&D for us."

Microsoft executives would not say if Ballmer's comments mean that Virtual Server 2005, introduced last fall, would be the last virtual server product for Microsoft.

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