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Microsoft Spurs Desktop Virtualization Race

Microsoft officially upped its ante in the race for enterprise desktop virtualization with several announcements yesterday, including the news that it plans to buy desktop virtualization vendor Calista.

The announcements from Redmond included word of an "expanded alliance" with Citrix (owner of the VMware competitor Xensource). That deal should improve links between Microsoft's emerging Hyper-V hypervisor (aka "Longhorn") and Xensource. The Hyper-V release is scheduled to occur within 180 days after Microsoft Windows Server 2008 goes into production in February.

Just as significantly, Microsoft has lowered the licensing costs of running Vista as a virtual machine, and the company has opened up licensing of all versions of Vista to run as VMs in any virtualization scheme.

It's all part of a move on Microsoft's part to pull ahead in the race to virtualize desktops and applications -- a race that has Citrix, Microsoft, VMware, and other big players on an acquisition binge. (See VMware Dives Into Dunes and VMware to Acquire Application Virtualizer Thinstall.)

"Desktop and application virtualization are growing at a stronger rate than server virtualization," asserts Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates. "VMware does not own the desktop yet, even though it's got heavyweight penetration in server virtualization. There is a big opportunity there."

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