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From the Saturday, February 24, 2007 edition of the New York Times, A Software Maker Goes Up Against Microsoft. As the title implies, the story hook is competition between VMware and Microsoft. But the real issues are how customers are affected by hypervisor lock-in and licensing limits.

In a meeting with corporate customers in New York last month, Steven A. Ballmer,
Microsoft’s chief executive, said, “Everybody in the operating system
business wants to be the guy on the bottom,” the software that controls
the hardware. … When quizzed on
Microsoft’s plans, Mr. Ballmer replied, “Our view is that
virtualization is something that should be built into the operating
system.” …

VMware, however,
points to license changes on Microsoft software that it says limit the
ability to move virtual-machine software around data centers to
automate the management of computing work. A white paper detailing
VMware’s concerns will be posted Monday on its Web site (www.vmware.com), the company said.

“Microsoft is looking for any way it can to gain the upper hand,” said Diane Greene, the president of VMware.

The white paper will be available next week, but in the meantime, if you need to catch up, go check out our blog entries from last November, Freedom from OS lock-in.

Given the subject of the New York Times article, it must of course quickly bring up the ghost of Netscape. The article explains virtualization, the benefits of server consolidation, and gives the basic history of the company and the upcoming IPO. The real issues are touched on lightly — the article explains well the relationship of virtualization and the OS (inside or underneath?), and it mentions that VMware thinks licensing changes will affect customers and prevent many people from fully utilizing their virtual infrastructure. The article ends back on competition.

Virtual Iron and XenSource take opposing views on Microsoft’s recent
moves. “Microsoft sees VMware coming between them and their customers,”
said John Thibault, president of Virtual Iron. “So Microsoft is
manipulating its license terms to see if it can freeze the market and
slow down the trend.” …

VMware, according to Microsoft,
should see the wisdom of the path XenSource chose. In his meeting with
corporate customers recently, Mr. Ballmer sketched out a future in
which Microsoft would put fundamental virtual-machine software in its
operating systems, and “VMware builds on top.”

VMware is leery of
such an accommodation, fearing it would prove to be a one-sided
bargain. “We will not sign agreements that give Microsoft control of
this layer,” Ms. Greene said.

See you Monday for more on the issues.