Microsoft Enhances Interoperability with Open Virtualisation Format

Microsoft says that its virtualisation format technology will now be available under its Open Specification Promise, an irrevocable promise from Microsoft to every individual and organisation in the world to make use of this patented technology for free, now and forever when implementing specified open standards. Microsoft first announced the availability of an OSP for web services specifications in September 2006 and now is expanding its customer-focused commitment to interoperability by applying the OSP to Microsoft's Virtual Hard Disk Image Format specification.

Virtualisation allows IT professionals to pool resources; for example, one computer can run many operating systems and applications at the same time. The result is that organisations can better manage complexity, increase agility and reduce costs. Many IT professionals believe virtualisation will be among the most important technology advancements in the next few years. Microsoft's VHD format, which has been available since May 2005, captures the entire virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file. With the VHD format as a freely available specification, Microsoft is contributing to the continued expansion of the virtualisation market by fostering interoperability among all commercial software solutions, including open source.

Helping developers build innovative and interoperable solutions regardless of the development or licensing model, the OSP has been praised by such industry figures as Red Hat Deputy General Counsel Mark Webbink and former General Counsel for the Open Source Initiative Larry Rosen for clarifying the legal concerns surrounding Microsoft's IP. Similar to the OSP applied to web service specifications, the OSP for the VHD format will promote further industry interoperability.

As a common virtualisation file format, VHD has been adopted by more than 60 vendors, enabling partners such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc, BMC Software Inc, Diskeeper Corp, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Network Appliance Inc, Virtual Iron and XenSource to help provide more seamless manageability, security features, reliability and cost efficiency for customers. Customers and partners realise the value of standardising on the Microsoft VHD format because it is the Microsoft virtualisation file format and offers migration across Microsoft Virtual Server, Virtual PC, and Windows Server virtualisation with Windows Server "Longhorn". The OSP will help further broad adoption of the VHD format. Microsoft launched its increased commitment to interoperability with the formation of the Interoperability Customer Executive Council in June 2006 and has continued this work through projects such as the open source Open XML Translator, technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo. Inc to help consumers reach across instant messenger community boundaries, a virtualisation technical collaboration with XenSource, and the release of the OSP for 35 web services protocols.

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