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7/22/2008
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VMware Counters Microsoft, Will Make ESXi Hypervisor Free

New CEO Paul Maritz, who took over the CEO reins from Diane Greene in an abrupt changeover July 8, timed the ESXi announcement with VMware's 2Q earnings report.

It its first move to counter Microsoft's Hyper-V, VMware will make its ESXi hypervisor available for free, effective July 28. The ESX hypervisor was once the core of the VMware product line. Until Monday, it will still be priced at $495 copy. The ESXi version represents a version of ESX that's easier to install and use.

The move to free ESXi downloads counters Microsoft's effort to propagate its Hyper-V hypervisor, now available as a $28 feature in Windows Server 2008. While the rest of the VMware price list will not change, the ESXi move will "seed the market" with VMware's core product and give customers a chance to experiment before buying VMware's higher-end products, such as Virtual Infrastructure 3 and Site Recovery Manager, VMware officials said.

That price list runs from $995 for Virtual Infrastructure 3 Foundation Edition to $5,750 for Virtual Infrastructure 3 Enterprise Edition. Site Recovery Manager is part of a management and automation bundle priced at $3,995.

New CEO Paul Maritz, who took over the CEO reins from Diane Greene in an abrupt changeover July 8, announced the ESXi move at VMware's second-quarter 2008 earnings report to Wall Street analysts this afternoon.

Asked what moves he planned to make with the company, Maritz in a Webcast said, "I'm still learning about this company. It would be presumptuous to say I know what changes are needed.

"One thing I can say," he continued, "is we are becoming a large software company and must be able to execute on multiple fronts at the same time. That requires a certain empowerment of the leadership underneath me and crisp decision making."

He said his efforts in the first days of assuming office were to "get to know the technical employees of the company. I hope to weather the transition [of CEOs] with as little negative impact as possible. "

At a later point in the Webcast, he added, "This is an exceptionally talented workforce. I know from my days at Microsoft, the employees' level of I.Q., energy, and passion are as good as anything I saw at Microsoft."

Maritz is a former senior VP and member of the executive committee at Microsoft, where he worked for 14 years and helped manage the marketing of Windows 95 and Windows NT. He joined EMC in February when it acquired Pi Corp., a company dedicated to building personal software for use in cloud computing.

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