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Microsoft, Citrix Partner in Virtualization Technology Blitz

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Microsoft announced new licensing options around its various virtualization technology offerings this week, along with several technology changes aimed at lowering barriers to adoption of the company’s virtualization products.

New virtualization technology offerings and marketing promotions help Microsoft and partner Citrix kick off a 100-city tour to convince customers that flexibility in virtualization is the winning strategy.

At the top of the list is a marketing promotion aimed at undercutting VMware View by letting customers trade in as many as 500 licenses at no extra cost to move to a solution Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is offering jointly with Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS).

The two companies also announced a virtual desktop interface (VDI) “kick start” promotion that lets customers who buy into the joint solution get up to half off the retail price.

The announcements centered around Microsoft’s emphasis that its approach to virtualization is different from others’ “one size fits all” strategies — specifically, VMware’s.

“First and foremost we take a desktop-to-datacenter approach,” Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Management & Services Division, said in a blog post Thursday. “Second, we believe building a foundation of centralized and integrated management is a key to making virtualization a reality and having the control of physical and virtual assets.”

Third, he added, customers require flexibility to best meet their virtualization needs.

And, as the infomercial pitchers on cable TV say: “But wait, there’s more.”

Microsoft is also easing licensing options for VDI customers. As of July 1, Windows Client Software Assurance customers won’t need to purchase separate licenses “to access their Windows operating system in a VDI environment,” the company said in a statement. “Virtual desktop access rights now will be a Software Assurance benefit.”

Also as of July 1, customers will get new roaming rights that give them the ability to access their virtual Windows desktops and Office applications running on VDI from home PCs and other devices. In order to gain that access, however, users need to be Windows Client Software Assurance or new Virtual Desktop Access license customers.

Microsoft also made several announcements that are more oriented toward the hardware and software.

For Windows 7 users, Windows “XP Mode” will no longer require that the CPU have hardware virtualization built in. Additionally, the hardware virtualization requirement is being dropped for Virtual PC and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V).

Meanwhile, Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2) Service Pack 1 (SP1) will add a couple of new features as well.

“Microsoft Dynamic Memory will allow customers to adjust memory of a guest virtual machine on demand to maximize server hardware use. Microsoft RemoteFX will enable users of virtual desktops and applications to receive a rich 3-D, multimedia experience while accessing information remotely,” the company said.

Finally, Microsoft and Citrix announced a technology-sharing agreement that will result in Citrix XenDesktop’s high-definition HDX technology working with Microsoft’s RemoteFX desktop-acceleration technology.

The announcements are also part of the kickoff of a 100-city tour to promote Microsoft’s and its partners’ offerings in the virtualization arena.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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