MS Virtual Server Free, Supports Linux

While most of the buzz at this week's LinuxWorld in Boston is intended to revolve around the open-source operating system, Microsoft on Monday decided to use a backdrop of the semi-annual Linux confab to make some waves of its own.

The company has announced that it would support those customers who decide to run Linux under Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2. Installations of Red Hat and SUSE Linux have been made simpler through software created by the Redmond company. Additionally, Microsoft would provide technical support for those who decide to run both through virtualization.

Microsoft will build virtualization directly into Windows Server "Longhorn". Through the "hypervisor technology," users of Longhorn will be able to host multiple operating systems on a single machine.

Additionally, Microsoft will now make Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2 a free download from its Web site. Previously, the application cost $99 USD for up to four processors and $199 USD for an unlimited number. The company said the move was made in response to customer requests.

Analysts speculate that the company's announcements have a lot to do with the recent activity in the virtualization sector.

VMware has made moves to solidify its position by offering a free version of its software called VMware Player. Additionally, the Xen virtualizaton project would be built into upcoming versions of Red and SUSE Linux.

"We see virtualization technology as a key stepping stone toward the vision of self-managing dynamic systems," Windows Server product marketing director Zane Adam said in a statement.

"Toward that end, we want to make virtualization more broadly accessible and affordable so our customers can realize benefits in areas like server consolidation, disaster recovery, application re-hosting, and software test and development," Adam continued.

Microsoft says that about 5,000 customers are currently using the Virtual Server product.

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