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Microsoft Offers Virtualization Technology For Free

Microsoft released the software under its Open Specification Promise, which makes select patented technology available to third parties for free when implementing specified open standards.

Antone Gonsalves

October 17, 2006

2 Min Read

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday made its patented virtualization format technology, which is used to run multiple operating systems on one computer, available for free to any third party.

Microsoft announced the availability of the Virtual Hard Disk Image Format specification at the Interoperability Summit in Brussels. The technology is available under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise, which makes select patented technology available for free when implementing specified open standards.

Microsoft's VHD format, available since May 2005, captures the entire virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file. The company uses the technology in its Virtual PC 2004 and Virtual Server 2005 products. The format also will be used in a future version of Windows Server.

Virtualization is growing in popularity as computers become increasingly more powerful. The technology increases the productivity of machines by enabling them to act like multiple computers. The sleight-of-hand technology is useful in backup and recovery, security, image management and patching, disk conversion and lifecycle management and provisioning.

While virtualization gets more bang-for-the-buck from hardware, it also increases the management headaches for IT departments. Tools that help handle the added complexity include Symantec's Live Migration and Altiris' Wise Package Studio.

Microsoft has made the VHD format available for download with or without registration. Registration gets the user notification of future updates.

VHD has been adopted by more than 60 vendors, including Brocade Communications Systems Inc., BMC Software Inc., Diskeeper Corp., Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Network Appliance Inc., Virtual Iron, and XenSource, according to Microsoft.

The technology is not the first Microsoft has released under the OSP. The company last month released under the document technology it contributed to nearly three dozen Web services specifications.

The OSP covers all third parties working with commercial or open-source software.

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