A friend of mine asked me about a recent move made by the Redmond wooly mammoth (aka M$), including virtualization in its forthcoming Vista release.
Lots a stuff at play here..
At a fundamental level, Longhorn (aka Vista) will not appear on the seen until at least 1st Qtr '07.
Even when it appears, who will install it? It's unlikely that there will be a huge upswell at department stores.
There also seems to be pretty exotic hardware requirements to allow the avg user to run the vaporware known as Vista.
XP seems to be fairly stable and will probably have SP3 before Vista's release. Most enterprises will not budge. Heck, Ford just installed XP on most machines last year. Actually, there are still a large number of W2K installs.
What about this thing called Virtualization?
Ahh. Sweet science. M$ is very worried about the potential of losing out to companies like VmWare and RedHat (Xen virtualization pkg is included with its enterprise distro). Developers simply _love_ to run more than one OS on a box. M$ understands this too. Gates and Co. believe that if they can offer a competitive product that would allow them to wedge their platform into the mind of any Open Source developer, and potential enterprise customers.
There are a number of advantages:
1) Minimal cost of entry - If I wish to earn a living building Linux or M$ apps, having a machine that can emulate the other platform is a boon.
2) Reduced hardware cost - One machine instead of 3 machines for different test platform environments
3) Great support for thin-clients - If I run a purely Linux shop and I've got a few clients that wish to run a proprietary pkg, virtualization of M$ environment.
4) Buy only one M$ license - Gets a little dicey here. You could purchase one license and virtualize your desktops for thin-clients.
IMHO, there really is no need to _ever_ spend money on a M$ license.
Bottom line, the Redmond wooly mammoth, is in search another revenue stream. They are hemorraging now.
There is no more cash to be collected from the desktop, M$ Office is there last stonghold. It too is being threatened by Open Office and other Web2.0 solutions. As we see the intelligence moving away from the desktop, out to the periphery of the network (ie Smartphones, Tablets, SaaS - Software as a Service, (see Zimbra and Google), I'm not sure where the next value stream will appear.
I assert that these new Web2.0 companies offer applications that rival the richness of the typical desktop software.
Take a look at Google's new collaboration calendar system.
Hmm. Maybe it's the DRM strategy? Better yet, maybe they'll be come a Web2.0 company with the release of Live.com . As usual, they're very, very late to the game.