"No one remembers a delay a couple of years down the line the way they do if it has quality problems. Today, less than 5 percent of servers are virtualized and there is a tremendous opportunity still sitting out there in the market," he said.
"There are a number of hypervisors out there and there are some things that work in ways we agree with and there are other things that work in ways that we dont. For example, there is one company that builds a pretty fat hypervisor that has a bunch of driver model stuff in there. We think that doesnt really belong in a low-level piece and we think that the hypervisor should be out of the way as much as possible."
Microsofts Laing also noted that the company has a strong virtualization product already in the market: Windows Virtual Server 2005. Microsoft knows from telemetry generated from the beta program how many people were running their beta in virtual versus physical environments.
"We can tell which hypervisor they are running on and to be honest, I see zero on Linux. We see VMware rather than Xen because its not really out there in production versions of Red Hat and SUSE. But the long-term issue around virtualization will be who had the best management tools," he said.
McDonald said that in the end, it all comes down to building products with the right level of technology.
"I dont want to have a discussion with a customer where we have a problem with a low-level quality product. It hurts you and always comes back to bite you. I am the least apologetic person about product delays as there are, at least 90 percent of the time, for good reasons," he said.
Asked if Windows was lagging behind Linux on the virtualization front, McDonald said: "I cant think of a time when anybody in production with a lot of virtualization has said to me that Linux is better than Windows in this regard."
Jim Fister, the lead technology strategist at Intel, agreed, telling eWEEK that he had a lot of discussions around virtualization and had also not heard anyone claim that Windows was inferior.
When asked what the biggest areas of concern were for him, McDonald said that the model had changed, and a lot of the functionality was now moving into the cloud, and that how Microsoft works in that environment will be very important.
There is also a decentralization trend in a lot of ways, and how Microsoft responds to that trend and does the right things for its customers in that area is also important, McDonald said.
Another key issue is how Microsoft will enable "people to be able to manage many servers as one. They are the big things we have to achieve and solving those things is much more important than worrying about someone with whatever percentage of share," he said.