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Thursday, 20 September 2007 21:28

Wintel cold war gets a virtual thaw

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The sometimes frosty relationship between Microsoft and Intel thawed slightly today, with Intel inviting Microsoft to demonstrate its forthcoming Windows Server 2008 during its developer forum. Hedging its bets, however, Intel was also keen to talk up its increasing commitment to Linux and open source.

While Windows remains the dominant platform for using Intel processors, relations between the software and chip giant haven't always been cordial in recent years. During an Intel Developer Forum (IDF) presentation earlier in the week on development platforms for ultra-mobile devices, Microsoft was conspicuous by its absence .

On day three of IDF, however, Microsoft finally got its foot on the stage. Renee James, VP of Intel's software and solutions group, invited Microsoft's general manager for virtualisation Michael Neil to demonstrate the Viridian virtualisation features of Windows Server 2008, and emphasised the 20-year-plus "productive history" between the two companies.

Neil's demo of Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed Longhorn and due for release in February next year, didn't reveal many new features, though he did say that power management features for the platform will be switched on by default.

Microsoft is relying on the familiarity of the Windows interface to sell its latest upgrade and the shift to a virtual enviroment. "The machine looks just like any other Windows system -- there's really no difference," Neil said.

Neil also emphasised Microsoft's newly co-operative attitude with Novell. "We've been working with Novell to optimise Linux on our platform," Neil said. "I never thought I'd hear that statement," Intel's James responded.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Microsoft's presence, James was equally keen to emphasise Intel's own increased commitment to open source. "Intel has become more of a key contributor to the open source community than we have been over the last couple of years," James said. "We think this is an important piece of innovation and how the community can bring new uses to the platform."

Referring to Intel's recent release of the source code for its threading building blocks, James remarked: "I didn't think we'd ever OS one of our tools."

"Development is no longer the purview of one company with one idea. It's a community of people collaborating."

Disclosure: Angus Kidman attended IDF as a guest of Intel.

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