Microsoft Corp. on Monday will announce the release of its Virtual PC technology to manufacturing and that the final product will be available to customers by the end of this year at a lower price than the original Connectix product.
Microsoft in February acquired the Virtual Machine assets of Connectix Corp., a privately held company in San Mateo, Calif., that has been involved in Virtual Machine (VM) technology since its inception in 1988.
Carla Huffman, Microsofts product manager for the Virtual PC, told eWEEK that the software will be available by the end of the year, through Microsofts existing retail and volume licensing channels, for an estimated retail price of $129, $100 less than the Connectix price of $229.
"The core scenario around this product is helping customers solve application compatibility issues, and we wanted to provide a cost-effective price point for them," she said.
The technology will run almost any x86 operating system in a Virtual PC environment, Huffman stressed. "So Linux can be installed on a virtual machine on Virtual PC. There has been some misunderstanding about this: You absolutely can run Linux in Virtual PC," she said.
"We have not removed any technical features that supported other non-Microsoft operating systems. So there is no negative impact to customers to running non-Microsoft operating systems on Virtual PC," she said.
The confusion around the product has been around official Microsoft product support services, Huffman said, adding that Microsoft is treating the use of Linux the same way it treats the use of any third-party application on a Windows operating system.
"We dont support Linux, and we also dont support third-party applications. We direct customers to their Linux providers if they have an issue running Linux on Virtual PC, and if that Linux provider triages that issue as a Virtual PC bug and submits a bug report, well work with them to fix the problem. Were treating them like we treat third-party applications," she said.
But Microsoft has optimized the product around key customer needs, which is helping them address application compatibility issues they are having with older, custom-written applications when they are buying new PCs and upgrading to newer operating systems, she said.
"So we have optimized our product around running those older operating systems in a virtual machine environment. That is why we support the older Windows operating systems and [IBMs] OS/2, which is a big pain point for those customers facing the end of life of OS/2 in the next year or two and who need to migrate off of it," she said.
The 250-odd beta testers for Virtual PC have expressed the desire to run other operating systems, especially in testing scenarios, and the product has met their needs in this regard, Huffman said. "We have not heard negative feedback from those testers that the product wasnt sufficient for their needs," she said.
The Virtual Server product, currently in development, is on track for release in the first half of next year.
Asked whether Microsoft is considering integrating the virtual technology into the core Windows kernel, Huffman skirted the issue, saying Microsoft is committed to developing virtualization solutions for the Windows platform. "Its too early to say how we will deliver these solutions going forward," Huffman said.