A More Friendly Microsoft

In his TechEd keynote, Bob Muglia talks compatibility and virtualization.

ORLANDO, Fla.-Microsoft is continuing its attempted evolution from primarily being an on-premises software provider to one that promotes services, compatibility and interoperability.

That's not to say that Microsoft is moving away from its core, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the company's Server and Tools Business, said in his keynote here at the Microsoft TechEd Professionals conference June 10. The company will continue to aggressively innovate on its packaged software offerings, Muglia said.

However, Microsoft also will continue to build out its Dynamic IT initiative, an effort that started five years with the goal of making technology more flexible, easier to use, less costly and a key part of a company's overall business strategy.

"Technology can help to transform your business," Muglia told 10,000 or so attendees. The goal, he said, is to reduce the time, effort and money spent on the technology so that IT professionals can put more effort into helping their companies drive business.

Through a series of user interviews and demos, Muglia and other Microsoft officials showed off a variety of new and enhanced products that are in the pipeline, including a host of new virtualization software and services.

Muglia also said that the much-awaited Hyper-V is about ready to be released. While not giving a hard date for the release, he said it will be ahead of the early August promised release date. He also said that Microsoft and some customers are using the Hyper-V beta-which was released in February with the launch of Windows Server 2008-in production environments. A Release Candidate version was released about a month ago.

He also said that in performance tests, Hyper-V exceeds the performance of VMware ESX.

eWEEK Labs tests Microsoft's Hyper-V. Read more here.

Among the demos Microsoft showed was some of the features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which is available in beta. Features in the software, which not only manages Microsoft-based virtual environments but also VMware virtual machines, include Quick Migration, which allows IT administrators to quickly move virtual machines between physical servers, and technology similar to VMware's VMotion, which allows for the migration of live virtual machines. Live migration, which Quick Migration can't do, will come in a future version of Virtual Machine Manager, Muglia said.

One blogger said he is impressed with what Microsoft is doing with virtualization, but questioned if any of the company's messages was any different from ones put forth by other virtualization companies.

"Bob [Muglia] sees Microsoft's various virtualization types as enabling the -dynamic data center,'" Scott Lowe said in a blog posted during the keynote. "Of course, this is a tried-and-true vision that almost every virtualization vendor has used."

Muglia and Jameel Khalfan, a product manager for Windows, also demonstrated some of the technologies Microsoft acquired this year when it bought desktop virtualization vendor Kidaro. The technologies, including creating virtual PCs and streaming application capabilities, will be included in Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack when it's released next year, Khalfan said.

Muglia also pointed to the moves Microsoft has taken to offer its traditionally on-premises software into the online world, starting with such products as Exchange. "Online services is a choice we want to offer," he said.

In addition, Microsoft officials demonstrated a feature called Direct Resynchronization, which automatically keeps the services environment in sync with a business's on-premises software. It takes the responsibility for the synchronization away from the IT professionals and makes the process invisible to the end user, they said.