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Microsoft Talks Desktop Virtualization Strategy

November 15, 2010 By Stuart J. Johnston | Datamation

As more PC managers begin, or follow through on, migrating from Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) to Windows 7, they are encountering one of the downsides of staying on an aging platform for too long.

It’s no surprise that some custom applications for IE6 won’t run on Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) new operating system. What may be surprising, however, is the scale of the problem, and the impacts of dealing with it.

In a blog post Thursday, a Microsoft manager published recommendations for how customers should deal with virtualizing the environments for those applications that are mission critical.

In its first year on the market, Microsoft sold 240 million licenses for Windows 7. While many, if not most, of those copies went to consumers, a lot of them went to corporate early adopters as well.

As adoption of Windows 7 by enterprise customers gets into full swing, though, there are inevitably bumps in the road — but virtualization solutions to aid in the migration are not without at least a bit of controversy.

In fact, researchers at Gartner recently registered their views on how much impact compatibility problems with IE6 apps are having on costs and time required to make the switch.

The Gartner study predicts that by 2014, “IE6 compatibility problems will cause at least 20 percent of organizations to run overtime or over budget on their Windows 7 migration projects.” That report made several suggestions, including that Microsoft should make some virtualization products available for free to help customers make the transition.

While not directly addressing Gartner analysts’ recommendations regarding free software licenses for virtualization products, a Microsoft spokesperson told in an e-mail, that the company is working hard to ease the migration for customers.

“To help customers take advantage of the modern desktop Microsoft makes available a significant number of resources to help organizations with their migrations to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8, including webcasts, prescriptive guidance, whitepapers, tools and temporary virtualization solutions,” the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, on Microsoft’s Windows Team Blog, Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management for Microsoft desktop virtualization, Thursday discussed three “layers” of virtualization, and some guidance as to when to use each one.

The simplest form is called “user state virtualization” and it separates a user’s data and settings from the device and instead saves that information centrally.

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