Microsoft plans to support Linux for the first time with the delivery of Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 this year, indicating the company's commitment to interoperability, according to chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer.
"As much as that hurts my eyes, I know that is an important capability for the Virtual Server technology for our customers," said Ballmer as the company demonstrated Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Virtual Server during his speech at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas.
"We have added support for non-Windows virtual machines being hosted on top of our Virtual Server products, including support for Linux," he said. "We know folks are going to want to run Windows systems, and Linux systems, and other systems together on top of our Virtual Server and Windows. You will see support for that later in the year."
Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 is in beta testing now, and will be generally available by the end of the year as the company continues to develop the virtual machine technology it acquired with Connectix in February 2003. Ballmer also looked further ahead to technologies that will be delivered 'in the Longhorn timeframe'.
"You will see us introduce hypervisor technology around Windows, that is important," he said. "We have virtualisation technology today, but really this notion of a smaller, thinner hypervisor and what that can mean is very important.
"This is one of the most significant areas of R&D; investment for us because we think this is a core enabler to help us improve our enterprise management and help us deliver to you the lowest TCO platform," he told the Microsoft Management Summit audience.
He admitted, however, that the company has some way to go to improve its virtualisation functionality. "For people looking to do data centre consolidation for production applications, we have a very good product but we also have a list as long as my arm of requests for enhancement, improvement, additional features, more performance, and we are working, and we are working," he added.