Has VMware been afraid of Xen?

It is possible VMware launched Player and now Server for free to counteract the upcoming menace of Xen, the open source hypervisor?

Bernard Golden thinks so, and wrote it in a CIO India article:

Today, VMWare has completely restructured its product line and its go-to-market strategy. VMWare offers a significant part of its product line available for immediate download at no cost. That’s right: EMC paid Rs 2,700 crore to buy a company that doesn’t charge for its products.

Why the big change in strategy? In one word: Xen. This is an open source virtualization product emanating from Cambridge University, with a commercial arm called Xensource. The entrance of an open source product into the market has caused the effective price of virtualization to head toward zero…

Read the whole article at source.

I would say it’s not the case at all.
VMware is giving away a large part of its technology following a precise evangelization strategy. And the objective is to have a position as solid as possible when Microsoft will invade the segment.
Even now that Xen can count on AMD and Intel virtualization aid, offering Windows virtual machines (the big missing feature of the project since beginning), it doesn’t represent a real threat.

I already covered the VMware ongoing strategy in The long chess game of VMware.