Microsoft and Citrix Come to a Desktop Virtualization Agreement

On March 18, Microsoft announced a partnership with Citrix Systems which seeks to promote the pair of companies’ end-to-end virtualization packages for businesses. One aspect of the broad-based partnership sees Microsoft and Citrix aggressively offering customers of rival VMware View the option of trading in 500 licenses with no additional cost. This highly aggressive facet of the recent alliance between Microsoft and Citrix highlights the perpetually increasing competitive nature of the entire virtualization industry.

Also during the company’s March 18 announcement, Microsoft put a number of changes in place in its virtualization policy. One such change which was instituted was making virtual desktop access rights a Windows Client Software Assurance benefit. Beginning on July 1, Software Assurance clients will no longer need to buy a separate license in order to access Windows in a virtual environment.

Windows Client Software Assurance and Virtual Desktop Access license customers will be able to access virtualized Windows and Office applications beginning on July 1 as well. These applications will be accessible through non-corporate network devices, like home PCs. Under Microsoft’s agreement with Citrix, Windows XP Mode will no longer require hardware virtualization technology and assets like Citrix XenDesktop’s HDC technology will be able to be applied to the capabilities of the Microsoft RemoteFX platform.

In an interview with eWEEK one day before the March 18 announcement, Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s management and Services Division, said, “What we’re bringing to the market together is this end-to-end experience with a simple and consistent interface for the end user. It’s comprehensive, and it leverages what customers already have. If you take a look at the assets that our companies already have in virtualization, it’s the most comprehensive group of assets on the market.”

Together, Microsoft and Citrix are trying to fire a broadside into rival VMware with the “rescue for VMware VDI” promotion. The promotion allows VMware View customers to trade in up to 500 licenses for no additional cost. New Microsoft-Citrix customers also receive about 50 percent off the estimated retail price for virtual desktop infrastructure through another promotion.

In its media portrayal, Microsoft emphasized the announcement as a value proposition. “Two infrastructures are more expensive than one infrastructure,” said Anderson before adding, “When customers see the chance to consolidate multiple infrastructures into one, it’s a chance to manage virtual and hardware desktop so it’s truly one infrastructure. It enables administrators to do everything through system center. And reducing infrastructure reduces cost.”

The partnership with Citrix comes on the heels of another Microsoft virtualization initiative, which arrived on February 22. Microsoft unveiled two business-focused virtualization applications, App-V 4.6 and MED-V 1.0 SP1 Release Candidate designed to better integrate proprietary applications into business’ evolving IT infrastructure APP-V 4.6 extends 64-bit support for Microsoft’s application virtualization product to streaming applications. MED-V 1.o SP1 RC allows applications which require Internet Explorer 6—or that otherwise cannot be supported on Windows 7—to run in a managed virtual desktop environment. For more information about Cloud Computing, please visit Nubifer.com.

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