Windows/Linux interoperability, sincerely yours

For all the hot-headed sparring between the Linux and Windows communities, Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s director of technical platform strategy, talks  straightforward about wanting Windows/Linux interoperability and appears sincere. Though, admittedly, he was addressing attendees of the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.

During a conference session on Tuesday about the upcoming virtualization in Windows Server 2008, Ramji repeatedly promised that engineering work would be done in the open and be continuously sent to the open-source community for feedback. “You can hold Microsoft accountable for that,” he said. Furthermore, he said that all intellectual property developed by the Microsoft/Novell teams around making virtualization work with Xen hypervisors “will land cleanly” in Linux and Xen. What that means, precisely, remains to be seen.

He further promised that the hypervisors being developed by the interoperability team will treat all code equally. That means that the goal is that all applications (be they Linux apps running on a Windows hypervisor or a Windows apps running on a Xen hypervisor) perform as well as running on their native OS. There’s good motive for such a goal. He knows that if the Xen hypervisor from makers like Virtual Iron run Windows and Linux applications with equal performance, while Microsoft’s hypervisor penalizes Linux applications, IT executives will boot native Windows out of the data center.

He made a pretty compelling case for how hard interoperability work is, too, though listing his reasons in this blog post would sound like plain old whining. That aside, he admitted that Microsoft was “months” behind where it wanted to be in its virtualization work for Server 2008 and said that it would be nine to 12 months before the team was at the point where they hit the fine-tuning/optimization part of their virtualization work.

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