Citrix Calls On Microsoft To Set Windows Free - InformationWeek

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Citrix Calls On Microsoft To Set Windows Free

The Xen hypervisor distributor wants Windows to be sold as part of a virtual environment application package that could run on any hypervisor, on any machine.

Virtualization software maker Citrix Systems on Thursday called on Microsoft to offer a Windows license that would enable software vendors to sell the operating system as part of an application package that could run on any virtual environment.

Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of Citrix, told attendees at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco that the future of virtualization includes the concept of a "virtual appliance," a package comprising an application, operating system, and virtual machine that could run on any hypervisor installed on a desktop, notebook, or server. Standing in the way of this advancement in portability is Microsoft, whose Windows operating system dominates the business computing market.

"Microsoft has to change its licensing policies to redistribute Windows on virtual appliances," Crosby said during his keynote. "Microsoft needs to have a license that allows [independent software] vendors to redistribute Windows as a bag of bits."

Such a license could be sold to the company buying the virtual appliances, Crosby told InformationWeek following the keynote.

Citrix distributes under the open source GNU Public License the Xen hypervisor, which enables companies to run multiple operating systems on a server or PC. Citrix has several products based on Xen technology, which it acquired through the purchase of XenSource last year. Xen originated as a University of Cambridge research project led by Ian Pratt, founder of XenSource.

Supporting Citrix's vision of a virtual appliance is a set of free tools the company has developed based on an emerging standard called open virtual format. The Kensho Project tools, set to ship in September, essentially neutralize the hypervisor as a vendor lock-in and give data center managers new flexibility in building virtual appliances and deploying them anywhere, from VMware and Citrix's XenServer to Microsoft's Hyper-V.

Such a move would force virtualization vendors to compete on who makes the most flexible, manageable virtualized environment, rather than locking customers into a system.

The Xen virtualization environment is maintained by an advisory board comprising the leading contributors to the technology: Citrix, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Novell, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems. The group also is responsible for setting requirements in order for companies to use the Xen trademark and for overseeing the technology road map.

Many companies have built their hypervisors with Xen technology, and some claim theirs is faster than the rest. "Don't believe the FUD [fear, uncertainty, doubt]," Crosby said. "Nobody's Xen hypervisor is any better than any other."

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