Microsoft, Citrix Virtualization Technologies Take Aim at VMware View

Microsoft, Citrix Virtualization Technologies Take Aim at VMware View

March 24, 2010

In the battle for the virtual desktop, Microsoft and Citrix share a common foe: VMware.

Like VMware, the two companies are taking their message on road. Last Friday, they kicked of a 100-city virtualization technology promotion tour with several announcements around their combined virtualization technology offerings.

The companies have partnered with each other long before virtualization came on the scene, so their virtualization partnership was a natural fit, and last Friday's potpourri of announcements was, if not to be expected, the next logical step.

For starters, VMware View is directly in the cross-hairs. Dissatisfied VMware View customers can trade in up to 500 licenses for a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)-Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) solution. Enterprises that haven't yet tested the waters of desktop virtualization can take advantage of a promotion under which a joint solution is reduced by as much as half off the retail price.

In addition, the companies will integrate XenDesktop's high-definition HDX technology with Microsoft's RemoteFX desktop-acceleration technology. Ideally this will address many of the criticisms related to speed in its virtual desktop environments.

More interesting than the partnership news, however, are some changes Microsoft is making to its licensing options for VDI customers. reports that starting July 1, Windows Client Software Assurance customers will no longer need to purchase separate licenses to access their Windows operating system in a VDI environment. Microsoft will also grant new roaming rights that allows customers to access their virtual Windows desktops and Office applications running on VDI from home PCs and other devices.

Licensing has long been a thorny and somewhat mysterious issue for virtual environments. Thus far, ISVs have taken a variety of approaches -- from per-socket to per-box to per-virtual machine. This made calculating virtualization costs ever more complex.

While Microsoft's move doesn't force a standard, in many ways it sets a precedent. Presumably, the ISVs writing the apps will follow the pattern set by the operating system enabling enterprises to get clearer estimates on what the costs of virtualizing will be.

It also confirms Microsoft's awareness that the old models no longer apply. Let's face it, Windows can't get much higher in terms of market share. It can hold on to its customer base, or it can go down. The glory days of the OS in its traditional form are fast retreating in the rearview mirror. So with virtual servers not going away and the OS still a critical component, Microsoft is wise to revise its pricing to assume virtual environments are in play.

What do you think of Microsoft's new pricing model? Do you think ISVs will follow a similar pattern?

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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