Why VMware released Player for free

On his blog, Christian Hammond, a VMware employee, underlined how much clamor VMware Player release aroused.
The Player has the same virtualization engine of Workstation product and VMware give it away for free. Why?

Christian considers two strong upcoming opponents: post-Windows codename Longhorn, which will include an hypervisor technology, and Xen, which will eventually be included in every Linux distribution (and I think on Solaris and BSD too).
So in the near future every operating system will have a virtualization engine as standard feature.

Christian, while saying We try to be a good company, really put the lights on what’s happening: VMware is savvy facing how Microsoft Windows Hypervisor and Xen capability to run Windows virtual machines will change the server virtualization market.
Acting today, spreading virtualization everywhere at a cheap price or no cost, VMware can try to gain as much satisfied users as possible, while doing its best to provide the cutting-edge technologies as fast as possible.

The first time I heard about Windows Hypervisor I guessed VMware would give away Workstation for free at a point. The VMware Player just confirmed my thoughts.
The real competition has still to come.