Virtualization software vendor VMware Inc has launched a stinging attack on Microsoft Corp’s attitude to virtualization, accusing the software giant of attempting to restrict users’ freedom of choice and leveraging its dominance to freeze out the competition.
The virtualization specialist, which is a subsidiary of storage giant EMC Corp, established itself as a leading provider in the emerging market for virtual servers and desktops but faces stiff competition from the likes of Microsoft and SWsoft Inc.
In an online white paper it has accused Microsoft of taking that competition too far by ignoring customer needs in order to ensure that they are deploying its Virtual PC and Virtual Server software.
Microsoft is trying to restrict customers’ flexibility and freedom to choose virtualization software by limiting who can run their software and how they can run it, the company claimed.
Microsoft is leveraging its ownership of the market leading operating system and numerous applications that are market leaders in their respective categories to drive customers to use Microsoft virtualization products, it added.
In particular, Microsoft does not have key virtual infrastructure capabilities (like VMotion) and they are making those either illegal or expensive for customers; Microsoft doesn’t have virtual desktop offerings, so they are denying it to customers; and Microsoft is moving to control this new layer that sits on the hardware by forcing their specifications and APIs on the industry.
VMware’s white paper includes seven examples of how it believes Microsoft’s attitude is damaging customers, such as restricting support to premier-level customers, prohibiting the use of Microsoft virtual machines on third party virtualization software, and de-activating Microsoft virtual machines already running on third party software.
The company also accused Microsoft or prohibiting the translation of Microsoft virtual machines into other formats, preventing users from moving virtual machines, prohibiting desktop virtualization, and using closed virtualization APIs rather open standards.
The end result, according to VMware is that Microsoft is not acting in customers’ best interests when they attempt to force an integrated virtual hardware/operating system/application stack for their operating system and applications.
It concluded: Microsoft needs to fundamentally accommodate market choice and interoperability. Customers require freedom of choice to implement both Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications running on windows with any chosen virtualization layer.
Microsoft approached VMware about potentially acquiring the virtualization specialist in 2002 but eventually plumped for its desktop virtualization rival Connectix Corp, which it picked up for an undisclosed sum in February 2003.
Since they bought Connectix they’ve been a lot more difficult to partner with, Vmware CEO Diane Greene told Computer Business Review in 2003, apparently pre-empting the current problem. But we will always be willing to partner with Microsoft.
According to VMware’s white paper, things started going wrong between the two companies shortly thereafter. In 2000, VMware had an OEM license to redistribute Windows in a VMware virtual machine, VMware was unable to renew this agreement in 2003 and since.
Since acquiring Connectix Microsoft has made its Virtual PC and Virtual Server software available free of charge and has pushed forward with plans to integrate virtualization capabilities into its forthcoming Longhorn Server release.
Speaking to Computer Business Review recently, the company UK server director, Bruce Lynn, admitted that it was watching the competition, and particularly VMware, closely when it came to deciding when to release the software.
Now we are in trade-off mode, said Lynn. Do we put in that 18th or 19th capability? Windows is in a cricket game in virtualization with VMware, and the question is when we’re going to declare.
Lynn added that the company could release Longhorn earlier than its scheduled late 2007 delivery if it sees a specific opportunity to target VMware.