Microsoft acquires Virtual PC products from Connectix

Microsoft Corp. says its latest acquisition will clear a path for NT4 Server users looking to upgrade but who don’t want to abandon their legacy applications.

The software maker Thursday announced it has bought a trio of virtual

machine products from Connectix Corp.. These include Virtual PC for Mac, Virtual PC and Virtual Server.

The Server product was really centred on trying to deal with three things that are emerging in the market place, said Bob O’Brien, group product manager for Windows Server 2003. One was server consolidation. The second was the challenge for NT4 applications that had either been developed for NT4 and weren’t going to be redeveloped for a variety of reasons. The third challenge, he said, is the sheer difficulty of migrating applications.

O’Brien said by creating a virtual environment, IT managers can keep their vintage programs running and do it on fewer servers. The end result is a twofold benefit. You can save money, he said, by lowering your hardware spend and, subsequently, maintenance costs. “”Plus they get some of the of the advantages in terms of performance, throughput and reliability of the newer systems,”” he said.

IDC Canada analyst Warren Shiau called the move very targeted. He said he can’t see NT4 users moving to Server 2000 when 2003 is already on the market.

“”How long can they hold out on NT4? I think it’s really a business-focused acquisition trying to finally give these enough of a shove or enough product or easing the migration enough to get them moving,”” Shiau said.

But exactly how many people need a push is uncertain. O’Brien said estimations of the Microsoft installed base vary wildly. Some say it is as high as 65 per cent, while others as low as 15 per cent. O’Brien estimated around 35 per cent.

Microsoft won’t confirm a release date for Sever (PC for Mac and PC are on the market), though it is aiming for the end of the year. The date, however, might get push back thanks to Bill Gates’ trustworthy computing promise.

“”The code will have to go through a fairly rigorous scrubbing in terms of meeting our now corporate standards in terms of security and reliability,”” O’Brien said.

When the application is ready, O’Brien said it will be available on CD as part of its regular distribution, but in years to come it could incorporated into the operating system.

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