Is Microsoft really committed to enterprise desktop virtualization?

Posted by Staff   |   Friday, October 30th, 2009   |  

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Ten days ago Microsoft announced the availability of its Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2009 R2.
As most readers know, this is a special bundle that the company offers to its enterprise customers (Volume License only), and only if they subscribe the Software Assurance (SA) service.

MDOP contains key components of the Microsoft virtualization offering, like the application virtualization platform App-V, acquired from Softricity in May 2006, and the security wrapper for Virtual PC MED-V, acquired from Kidaro in March 2008.

While none of the two technologies is as popular as the hypervisors, both are critical for the Microsoft long-term virtualization strategy.
App-V is specially important and Microsoft is silently working behind the scene to offer it inside servers, not just on desktops like today.

This new MDOP 2009 R2 only updates App-V 4.5 with the Service Pack 1, and the SP1 only introduces support for Windows 7 (which includes support for AppLocker, BranchCache and BitLocker ToGo features).
MED-V 1.0 won’t support Windows 7 before Q1 2010, and it seems that there will not be much more.

Microsoft seems far behind with MED-V. After the Kidaro acquisition, it took 13 months to release a rebranded version 1.0, and now it’s taking another 9-12 months just to release the first service pack.
And it’s worth to remember that the product still supports a hosted virtualization platform, Virtual PC, where Microsoft is not investing at all.

It’s acceptable that Microsoft doesn’t push too hard on App-V until the market is ready to adopt it on a large scale.
This way it has the time to focus on Hyper-V, the time to develop a stronger engine and to port it to the server side, the time to shape a meaningful marketing strategy, while Citrix is containing the VMware early attempts to invade the application virtualization market with ThinApp.

It’s less acceptable that Microsoft is not doing anything concrete with MED-V, which leverages hardware virtualization to secure the enterprise in an innovative way.
Microsoft doesn’t have a lead in the security space. And the perception that the security industry has about Microsoft didn’t improve too much over the years.
Securing the enterprise customers with virtualization is a unique opportunity that Microsoft is wasting, mostly considering that VMware couldn’t win this market with ACE.

Microsoft may be doing this because it doesn’t want to waste any time in developing something on top of an almost death platform like Virtual PC. But so far the company didn’t disclose any plan for the desktop virtualization space.
It may replace Virtual PC with a version of Hyper-V for desktops (which would become a really ubiquitous client hypervisor for VDI) or it may decide to seriously restart the investment on Virtual PC.

Customers have no idea and whatever will happen to this second class virtualization platform it will also impact MED-V.
How an enterprise can trust a non-leading vendor (like Microsoft in the security space) without a clear roadmap and a lethargic development lifecycle? Where’s the value for SA customers in having MED-V inside MDOP?

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