Microsoft's Windows 2016 Offer Aimed at Luring Away VMware Customers

Today's topics include Microsoft's plan to win over VMware customers by offering them Windows Server 2016 for free, IBM's plan to claim some of Intel's server chip market share, Nvidia's unveiling of its new processor meant for autonomous vehicles and Google's goal to penalize sites that are running pop-up ads on mobile devices.

Despite Microsoft's high-profile entry into server virtualization back in 2008, VMware continues to dominate the desktop and server virtualization space. Sure, Redmond has made some solid gains. In fact, Gartner called Microsoft "a mainstream contender for enterprise use" in its latest analysis of the market—but VMware remains the to-go vendor for organizations seeking to get the most from their server hardware investments.

In a renewed push just before the September launch of Windows Server 2016, which includes Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology, the software giant announced a new offer to entice current VMware vSphere customers. "From September 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, customers who switch workloads from VMware to Hyper-V can get free Windows Server Datacenter licenses when buying Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance," announced Microsoft in an Aug. 24 blog post.

IBM officials want to remind businesses that Intel's x86 processors aren't the only server chips on the market. Company engineers were at the Hot Chips 2016 show in Cupertino, Calif., this week to talk about Big Blue's upcoming Power9 processors, which are scheduled to hit the market next year and promise a broad range of capabilities that will make the architecture attractive for an array of workloads, from hyperscale data centers to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

They reiterated many of the key assets of Power9, from its new architecture that will offer up to 24 processing cores and its ability to run with a wide array of accelerators like GPUs, field-programmable gate arrays and application-specific integrated circuits for faster performance to embracing such technologies as Nvidia's NVLink 2.0 and PCI Express 4.0. It's a cornerstone of IBM's larger effort to carve into Intel's dominant share of the server chip market, where more than 90 percent of all systems run on x86 chips from Intel.

Nvidia is driving forward its ambitions in the fast-growing autonomous vehicle space with a powerful new mobile processor that pairs its latest Denver 2.0 CPU and Pascal-based GPUs to control deep-learning applications that will make cars smart enough to recognize and respond to obstacles such as bikers and pedestrians.

Nvidia engineers unveiled the details of the Tegra "Parker" processor this week at the Hot Chips 2016 show, noting the chip is aimed at automotive uses such as self-driving cars and digital cockpits in vehicles. Given the power and capabilities in the chip, it also could drive applications in other areas such as gaming and mobile devices. Company executives have identified both artificial intelligence and autonomous cars as key growth markets.

Starting Jan. 10, 2017, Google will penalize websites that serve up pop-up ads, to users searching for content on mobile devices. Websites and web pages that use such pop-ups will rank lower in Google's mobile search results after that date, the company announced this week.

The move is designed to make it easier for users to access mobile content, Google Product Manager Doantam Phan announced on the company's Webmaster Central Blog. Although a majority of web pages have become more mobile-friendly in the past two years, the use of intrusive interstitials on pages that are displayed to mobile users has increased markedly, Phan said.

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