Microsoft to focus on virtualization at TechEd

Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) virtualization strategy is expected to take center stage during the second week of Microsoft’s TechEd conference series in Orlando.

At TechEd North America 2008 IT Professionals, Microsoft will introduce virtualization certifications for IT professionals as well as outline a plan to include virtualization support in its Forefront line of security products, the company said. Regarding the latter, Microsoft will announce that Forefront Client Security, software that provides anti-virus and anti-malware protection for desktops, will support Microsoft’s forthcoming Hyper-V server-virtualization software upon its release.

The next-generation Forefront security product, code-named Stirling, also will support Hyper-V when Stirling is released in the first half of next year, Microsoft is expected to unveil.

Hyper-V is Microsoft’s virtualization software for Windows Server 2008; it should be released as final code sometime in the next several months. Originally, the software was scheduled to be a part of Windows Server 2008, introduced in February, but its release date was pushed back. A beta of Hyper-V is currently available.

During a keynote by Microsoft’s Senior Vice President of Server and Tools Bob Muglia, scheduled for Tuesday morning, Microsoft also will reveal that the Server Virtualization Validation Program, which tests a third party’s virtualization software to ensure it works with Windows Server 2008, is now operational and open to third-party software developers.

Other virtualization-related news at the conference surrounds release candidate 1 of Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5, software that allows applications to be run in virtual containers on a network. Microsoft plans to release the software in a month, it will announce.

In addition, .NET Configuration Service 2.0, code libraries that help developers build services that work across disparate systems, will be made available at TechEd. Muglia is expected to show how the service can be used to dynamically virtualize an application in several network scenarios — where software is running on premise, on physical network resources and across the networking cloud.

Virtualization is becoming a key part of Microsoft’s strategy going forward not only for its server OS, but also for applications and entire desktops running on its Windows client OS.

Windows Vista, in particular, is a key part of Microsoft’s desktop and application-virtualization strategy, as these technologies help preclude the need for applications to be ported over to a new OS.

Applications or entire desktops can be virtualized and run on the network and so will not interfere with other applications already running on an OS. Some companies have been slow to adopt Vista because of the complications that come with making older applications compatible with Vista.

Other software updates expected to be unveiled and/or made available at the show, but unrelated to Microsoft’s virtualization plan, are the first release candidate for the next version of Microsoft’s database, SQL Server 2008; Forefront Security for Office Communications Server Beta 1; Forefront Client Security with support for Windows Server 2008; and Identity Lifecycle Manager “2” beta 3, a test version of forthcoming identity-management software.

This week’s TechEd conference, aimed at IT professionals, is the second TechEd in North America in as many weeks. Last week Microsoft hosted TechEd Developers in Orlando.

Usually the company hosts both shows together in the U.S., but chose to hold separate conferences back to back this year.

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