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Microsoft recently made a move to consolidate servers and workstations running Windows, as it consolidated the partitioning market for Intel machines.
It acquired many of the assets of Connectix, which makes partitioning software that lets network administrators divvy up a server or workstation into smaller slices, each of which can run its own version of an operating system or applications.
The deal is a real boon for Microsoft, analysts say, as the company is trying to convince customers that its operating system is as hefty and capable as Unix, which can be partitioned to support different workloads or operating systems.
"That's excellent for server consolidators and anyone who wants to run Windows servers but reduce the risk that errant applications will bring each other down," says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata.
Connectix's software allows a server to be carved into separate partitions where different operating environments can run. It supports Windows, NetWare, OS/2, Linux and Macintosh.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft will continue to support all these environments. When the company acquired Great Plains Software in 2000, it acquired a well-used accounting package that ran on Windows and Linux. Microsoft now sells Great Plains for Windows, but not Great Plains for Linux, leading observers to wonder whether that too will be the fate of Connectix's software for virtualizing NetWare, OS/2, Linux and Macintosh environments
Microsoft bought Connectix's Virtual PC for Windows, Virtual PC for Mac, and a beta product, Virtual Server. After testing Virtual Server, Microsoft says it will release the software with all its components. Virtual Server will run on a Windows 2003 host computer and will support other operating systems including Linux and Windows NT.
The deal is expected to have the most impact on Connectix's competitors, VMWare and SWsoft, which also offer virtual machine or virtual server environments.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Read more about lans & wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.