Microsoft buys Softricity, talks virtualization

Microsoft Monday announced that it has bought Softricity, a provider of software to virtualize applications or stream them on-demand to client PCs.

Microsoft also said that a beta version of its hypervisor for the upcoming Longhorn version of Windows Server will be available by year's end. Microsoft also plans to release a beta version of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, formerly code-named Carmine, within 90 days.

Microsoft said it would offer more details about it plans at its WinHEC conference, which starts Tuesday in Seattle and runs through Thursday.

Softricity is a key purchase for Microsoft on the desktop side, according to Jim Ni, a group marketing manager with the Windows Server team. The company's virtualization software can reduce application incompatibilities that arise, for instance, if a user running Windows Vista on his PC needs access to an application that runs only on Windows 2000 or XP. Rather than having to install the application, the user can access a hosted version on a server, Ni said.

Microsoft did not disclose how much it paid for Boston-based Softricity.

The upcoming Windows Server hypervisor, which enables servers to run multiple virtual machines with different operating systems, will be integrated with Longhorn and released to manufacturing within 180 days of Longhorn, which is expected to be released in the second half of next year, Ni said.

It will be the successor to Microsoft's current Virtual Server 2005 R2, which works with Windows Server 2003 and which Microsoft made free last month.

As for Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, that tool will be designed to quickly help find machines suitable for virtualization and should make managing data centers easier, Ni said.

Microsoft expects to release Virtual Machine Manager to manufacturing in the second half of next year.

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