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5/23/2006
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Microsoft Sketches Virtualization Plans, Confirms Softricity Buy

Microsoft plans to release of the first beta of its virtualization hypervisor, code-named Viridian, later this year.

Microsoft on Monday said it will accelerate the development of its virtualization hypervisor and management server and unveiled plans to acquire Softricity.

Microsoft made the announcements at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), held this week in Seattle. News of the company's intent to buy Softricity, a Boston-based application virtualization vendor, emerged last week.

Microsoft plans to release of the first beta of the hypervisor, code-named Viridian, later this year. The product is slated to ship 180 days after the release of the next Windows server, code-named Longhorn, which is due out in the second half of 2007.

Microsoft originally planned to integrate the hypervisor into the Longhorn server but later pushed that back to the R2 version of Longhorn, which isn't expected until the 2009-2010 time frame.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant also officially named its virtualization management server, now called the System Center Virtual Machine Manager. The first beta of the virtualization manager, previously code-named Carmine, is slated for release in the next 90 days, and the product is expected to be released to manufacturing by the end of next year, Microsoft said.

With those new promises, Microsoft is set to deliver its next-generation virtualization platform in the first half of 2008.

Sources close to Microsoft said corporate customers are pressuring the company to speed up delivery of its platform amid intense competition from VMware, which is expected to announce the availability of its platform upgrade in June, and from Linux players that integrated the Xen hypervisor in their OS upgrades this year.

Despite announcing the Softricity acquisition, Microsoft executives declined to comment on product plans until the deal is finalized in the next four to six months. They indicated, however, that the application virtualization technology will enable Microsoft to provide improved application compatibility on the desktop and migrate customers to Windows more easily.

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