Microsoft's decision to lighten up on Windows and Office virtualization licenses isn't just a case of a powerful company bowing to the inevitable -- it's part of a broad strategy aimed at leveraging virtualization to remake the entire face of enterprise computing.
InformationWeek's J. Nicholas Hoover summed up the strategy best in this article that ties together the company's recent moves on Windows/Office licenses, the purchase of presentation virtualization specialist Calista Technologies, an expanded alliance with Citrix Systems (recent buyer of XenSource), and new virtualization capabilities for Windows Server.
According to Hoover, the strategy rests on the idea of "dynamic IT," in which applications are separated from physical hardware and are allowed to flow from server to server based on the operational needs of the user. The upcoming Hyper-V system and renewed System Center Virtual Machine Manager are expected to play crucial roles when they are released later this year.
Another major component is the SoftGrid Application Virtualization system, which the company claims is the fastest-selling enterprise app in Microsoft history. Its main purpose is to deliver applications as Web services and to cut down the interdependency that many applications have with each other. Ultimately, however, the goal is to let any worker launch any application or service from any device.
It's a tall order, but it's the kind of thing that only a company with Microsoft's market clout can attempt.