Despite the hype, virtualization is nothing so very new. Mainframe vets know this well. But it got "rediscovered" by VMware, which last week announced it is shipping a free version of its virtualization server platform. The product has been in beta form since February.
After a long gestation, Microsoft is on the virtual roll. It, too, made an announcement, saying that Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1 will be free. The product is available for download here.
Like a lot of new technologies, developers will be the first to grapple with virtualization. In fact, as Microsoft literature points out, "Microsoft Virtual PC allows developers to test application changes on virtual end-user machines instead of on the developer's physical machine. This helps to mitigate the 'works on my machine' syndrome, theoretically (or virtually)."
Industry implications are expected to extend far beyond development, as Dan Fernandez points out in this blog entry. "If you combine the PC power in five years with advances in Virtual PC, you can start imagining running your day-to-day work environment, from Office to Visual Studio, in a Virtual PC," Fernandez writes, adding that virtualization also offers better ways to approach data backups, deployment and compatibility testing.
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Background on Virtual PC for developers