Acquisition Gives Microsoft New Client Apps, Employees

Microsoft last week acquired two established client products from privately held Connectix, in addition to the beta version of the San Mateo, Calif.-based company's Virtual Server software.

The Virtual PC for Windows software lets users run multiple PC-based operating systems and applications simultaneously on a single workstation.

Jim Hebert, general manager of Microsoft's Windows server product management group, said a typical scenario for Virtual PC for Windows might involve a user who has upgraded to Windows XP yet wants to run an older application built for Windows 95 or 98. With the Virtual PC software, the user could run the older application and the older underlying operating system on the new PC, Hebert said.

Connectix's Virtual PC for Mac, through software emulation of the Intel chip set and other hardware components, enables Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh computers to run Windows applications, access PC networks and share files with PC users.

Hebert said that in addition to the three Connectix software products, Microsoft also acquired the company's engineering and support teams. He added that Microsoft has no plans to change any of the functionality of the Connectix products. But he did note that the Virtual Server software might eventually be built into the Windows server operating system and that product names might change at some point.

Microsoft will complete final development, testing and certification of Virtual Server and provide support for existing testers of the product. The Connectix beta is closed to new applicants, but Microsoft plans to introduce a Virtual Server preview release on April 15 via its Web site.

Tom Bittman, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the Connectix Virtual Server software drove the Microsoft acquisition. But, he said, although Microsoft sees partitioning as a helpful tool for users doing migrations, he thinks Microsoft sees workload management as more important strategically.

Microsoft will ship its Windows Systems Resource Manager (WSRM), which allows users to allocate processing power and memory for applications that run on the same copy of Windows, as a separate CD with Windows Server 2003.

"WSRM is really at the center of their consolidation strategy," Bittman said.

Although analysts said the Connectix server software was the driver for the Microsoft acquisition, the client piece may gain some corporate traction. Diane Greene, CEO of rival VMware, said Merrill Lynch & Co. has more than 20,000 seats of her company's workstation product so that users can run two different flavors of Windows for application compatibility.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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