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VMware's Paul Maritz, an ex-top Microsoft exec, says Windows no longer center of innovation

By Jon Brodkin
August 31, 2010 06:31 PM ET

Network World - Windows and operating systems in general have lost their status as the center of innovation in the IT industry, said VMware CEO Paul Maritz, himself a former Microsoft executive, as VMworld kicked off Tuesday.

Maritz didn't go so far as to say that operating systems will disappear, in remarks made during a keynote address and in a Q&A session with media. But the roles of operating systems in managing hardware and providing a set of abstracted services to applications are being taken over by the virtualization layer and development frameworks such as Spring and Ruby on Rails, he said.

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"The point is not that quote-unquote operating systems are going to disappear," Maritz said. "It's the point about where innovation is occurring. Traditional operating systems did two things. They coordinated the hardware and they provided services to applications. The innovation in how hardware is coordinated today and the innovation in how services are provided to applications is no longer happening inside the operating system."

Maritz claimed that developers have "voted with their feet" in choosing frameworks such as Spring and Ruby on Rails. He conspicuously failed to mention Microsoft's .NET Framework, however, which is also quite popular and was rated the best overall framework in a recent Evans Data Corp. survey of developers. Spring, of course, is controlled by VMware now that it owns SpringSource, and will feature prominently in VMforce, a joint cloud computing collaboration with

The Microsoft-VMware rivalry is in full swing at VMworld, even though Microsoft itself has a limited presence on the show floor. While Maritz argued for the decreased importance of Windows, Microsoft took out an advertisement in USA Today in the form of an open letter to VMware customers pleading with them not to sign three-year contracts with VMware.

"First of all, I think it's a very sincere form of flattery the fact that Microsoft needs to take out a full page ad in a national newspaper for our customer event," Maritz said. "For Microsoft to talk about lock-in is a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black. I smiled when I saw that this morning."

Maritz also claimed that "There really hasn't been a lot of innovation inside operating systems for 20 years now," another interesting comment given that Maritz left Microsoft only 10 years ago and led development of Windows 95 and Windows 2000.

Maritz joined VMware as CEO a little more than two years ago when EMC, VMware's owner, forced out co-founder Diane Greene. Analysts said the appointment of Maritz appeared to be targeted at fending off the increasing competition from Microsoft, and his public statements seem to bear that out.

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Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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