Bonum Certa Men Certa

Xen Post Citrixsoft Takeover: More Windows Desktop, Less GNU/Linux Server

...Novell being an exception

Consider this to be a quick addendum to a previous post about Xen, Novell and other members of the 'anti-VMWare' club. Here we have another exhibit that serves as a reminder of Xen's direction. The headline, "Citrix - 'Shifting' Focus," ought to give a clue.

Delivering services to user desktops leveraging virtualization has always been important to Citrix and one of the main reasons they acquired XenSource. So what is the "shift"?


Server virtualisation is what Xen used to be all about to GNU/Linux. A couple of months ago Citrix said it had acquired XenSource for the brand. Now, consider this:

Citrix and Microsoft Unveil New Branch Office Application Delivery Solution at Citrix Synergy 2008



Citrix Systems and Microsoft have announced the immediate availability of Citrix Branch Repeater. This new line of branch office appliances have been developed and marketed as part of a strategic alliance between the two companies.

Citrix Branch Repeater can now stage applications streamed to branch employees by Citrix XenApp (previously known as Citrix Presentation Server) at the front door of the branch.


Going back to Microsoft's desktop virtualisation ambition, consider this new article which brings the recent and arguably mysterious acquisition of Kidaro into play:

Microsoft will Update Desktop Virtualization



[...]

The Kidaro software lets users run multiple versions of Windows and applications concurrently without having to open multiple virtual machine sessions. Microsoft has rebranded the Kidaro software as Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization and will release it in the first half of 2009.


In light of it all, in order to shed some more light on motivation, consider the following new article that explains Microsoft's problem pretty well:

Meanwhile, another technology called "virtualization," which allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on one PC or server, is diminishing the importance of products like Vista and raises questions about its future. "What is an operating system and what role should it serve?" asks Whitehouse. "The OS was originally intended as an abstraction layer between software applications and the computer's hardware. But with the new abstraction layer between the hardware and the OS provided by virtualization and products like Adobe's AIR that sit between the OS and desktop software applications, the role the operating system once played is becoming increasingly diminished."

[...]

Despite these new developments, Microsoft finds itself at a crossroads, according to legal studies and business ethics professor Kevin Werbach.

"The platform for most uses of PCs today is the Internet, not Windows. Windows plays an important role in the ecosystem, but it's not the center of the world in the way it used to be. ... Microsoft needs to decide whether it cares more about the next 5 to 10 years, or the 20 years after that."

[...]

At a conference on April 7, Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil McDonald argued that Windows is collapsing under its own weight and suggested that it change radically to become lighter and modular so that customers only have to use features they need. For Microsoft, its ecosystem and its customers, "the situation is untenable," the two analysts stated.


Lastly, remember that the lesser-explored issue is the deep bond that's formed not just between Xen and Citrix-Microsoft, but also with Novell. A quick reminder from a new article is this: (highlight in red to be considered)

Novell says its “SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 Service Pack 2,” or SP2, is the only Xen-based solution of its kind and includes support for Microsoft for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 users.


Although this was pointed out before, it's probably worth just repeating. Microsoft chooses who to play with and it tries hard to separate SUSE from GNU/Linux. Sounds familiar? Recall the replacement of the word "standards" with "interoperability" (interop != open standard). It is actually similar to what "open source" did to "Free software". It throws away the key values, for self-serving reasons. It rids the exploiter from obligations and liabilities.

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