The news did not make the headlines but what Microsoft has done is worth its worth of gold, both for the Redmond giant and for the Linux community. A few days ago, they announced that they will release Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Entreprise edition for free at Linux Conference. Why they did it there? To emphasis the fact that Virtual Server R2 is compatible with Linux, their arch-competitors.
VSR2 is actually compatible with an initial set of nine Linux distributions and this is bound to increase in a few months. VSR2 is a free add-on to Windows Server 2003 which does not mean that it should not be treated with respect.
Rather than being a peripheral actor in Microsoft's overall server software strategy, Virtual Server R2 is pivotal to Microsoft's server market share. One of the key features of Virtual Server R2 is support for hardware virtualisation capabilities from x86 processor vendors Intel and AMD.
45 vendors agreed to collaborate on the royalty-free license of the Virtual Hard drive virtualisation file format which is not open source but is probably as far as Microsoft is willing to go for now.
The inclusion of Linux and other open source companies in the press release is a tacit acknowledgement by Microsoft's supremos that open source is a powerful and potent ally that should not be overlooked.