Microsoft offers Virtual PC for free

Microsoft has further upped the ante in its competition with VMware -- the dominant virtualization vendor for x86 servers -- by making its Virtual PC product into a free download, and introducing more permissive licence conditions for Windows Vista.

Virtualization, the ability to run multiple server instances at the same time on a single hardware system -- is taking off, with a recent Forrester survey showing that 60 percent of large North American businesses plan to spend money on the technology over the next year.

The technology has been popularized for x86 servers since 1998 by VMware, which also offers the most mature virtualization management tools, according to industry analysts.

Microsoft is intent on changing the game, however. Its Virtual Server and Virtual PC, based on technology acquired with Microsoft's purchase of Connectix, don't have the track record or mature tools of VMware and its partners, according to analysts.

But Microsoft believes it can pull off a similar trick with Virtual Server and Virtual PC as it accomplished with Internet Explorer by making them easily available, and ultimately integrating them into the OS.

"We don't try and be the solution for absolutely everyone," Alfred Biehler, Microsoft UK's product manager for management and virtualization technologies, told Techworld. "But for the majority of the market, we believe we've got a good solution, especially for the cost-sensitive market."

In April Microsoft made Virtual Server 2005 R2, the latest version, free to download; as of Wednesday Virtual PC is also freely downloadable. Microsoft has said it will integrate the technology into Longhorn Server, due next year, within about three months of the product's launch.

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled some virtualization-related bonuses for customers who sign up for the company's unpopular Software Assurance volume licensing program.

Software Assurance customers pay Microsoft a subscription fee to receive any software upgrades released during a set period, but aren't guaranteed that any upgrades will be released -- and delays have often mean that the upgrades haven't been released when customers expect.

Microsoft has been adding more features to the program to convince customers to sign up; it has also announced that the Enterprise version of Windows Vista will only be available under Software Assurance. In February, Microsoft listed the inclusion of Virtual PC as one of the benefits of buying Vista Enterprise, though Wednesday's news effectively removes that benefit.

Vista Enterprise users will, however, be allowed to install up to four copies of the OS in virtual machines for a single user on a single device, Microsoft said on Wednesday. The licence permits competitors' technologies to be used to create the virtual machines. Previously, users would have needed to buy a licence for each copy of Vista running in a virtual machine.

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft announced it's working on Virtual PC 2007, the successor to VPC 2004. The product will support Vista both as host and guest OS, will support 64-bit Windows hosts (but not guests), and will boost performance over VPC 2004.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?