Microsoft has announced a partnership with Citrix Systems aimed at promoting the two companies' end-to-end virtualization packages for businesses. One particularly aggressive facet of the new alliance has Microsoft and Citrix offering VMware View customers the ability to trade in 500 licenses at no additional cost, reflecting the increased competitiveness in the virtualization industry as a whole.
As part of the March 18 announcement, Microsoft instituted a number of changes to its virtualization policy, including making virtual desktop access rights a Windows Client Software Assurance benefit; starting July 1, those Software Assurance clients will not need to buy a separate license in order to access Windows in a virtual environment.
Also on July 1, Windows Client Software Assurance and Virtual Desktop Access license customers will be able to access virtualized Windows and Office applications through non-corporate network devices, such as home PCs. Windows XP Mode will no longer require hardware virtualization technology, and under the agreement with Citrix, assets such as Citrix XenDesktop's HDX technology can be applied to the capabilities of the Microsoft RemoteFX platform.
"What we're bringing to the market together is this end-to-end experience with a simple and consistent interface for the end user," Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Management and Services Division, told eWEEK in a March 17 interview. "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."
Microsoft and Citrix are also attempting to fire a broadside into VMware with the "Rescue for VMware VDI" promotion, which allows VMware View customers to trade in up to 500 licenses at no additional cost. Another promotion offers new Microsoft-Citrix virtualization customers about 50 percent off the estimated retail price for virtual desktop infrastructure.
But in conversations with the media, Microsoft seemed primarily interested in emphasizing the announcement as a value proposition.
"Two infrastructures are more expensive than one infrastructure," Anderson said. "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 announcement follows another Microsoft virtualization initiative. On Feb. 22, the company released two business-focused virtualization applications, App-V 4.6 and MED-V 1.0 SP1 Release Candidate, designed to better integrate proprietary applications into businesses' evolving IT infrastructure. App-V 4.6 extends 64-bit support for Microsoft's application virtualization product to streaming applications, while MED-V 1.0 SP1 RC allows applications that require Internet Explorer 6 or that otherwise can't be supported on Windows 7 to run in a managed virtual desktop environment.