Crouching App, Hidden OS

Microsoft's acquisition of Kidaro's virtualization technology provides partners with new ways to seamlessly deliver legacy apps to Windows Vista end users.

Microsoft's latest acquisition of a virtualization technology company opens some new doors for partners performing Windows Vista migrations, infrastructure optimization and general virtualization projects.

In March, Microsoft announced its bid for Kidaro, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., has research and development staff in Israel and sells a product called Kidaro Managed Workspace. The sale price wasn't disclosed, and, as of early April, the deal hadn't yet closed.

Kidaro makes a virtualization platform designed to help administrators manage virtual machines (VMs). First, an admin builds a standard corporate desktop (OS, applications, data, management tools, security policies, remote access client) on a VM from VMware Inc. or on Microsoft Virtual PC. Kidaro's server-side software allows for storing and version management of the images, Active Directory-based authentication for downloading the images, monitoring and auditing.

An especially slick feature of Kidaro's code is the seamlessness of the end-user experience. For example, rather than launching an entire Windows XP virtual desktop in a window inside the Vista desktop like a standard VM, the Kidaro-wrapped VM causes applications to appear within the normal program menu. A Vista user launches the virtual XP app out of the Vista program menu. The only hint that the app is running in a VM on XP is a colored border around the application.

"The [use case] that's probably the most urgent, I would say, from our perspective, is helping customers migrate to Windows Vista and move their legacy applications that they can't remediate."
Gavriella Schuster, Senior Director, Microsoft's Windows Product Management Group

Microsoft had a strong tactical incentive to do the deal. "The [use case] that's probably the most urgent ... is helping customers migrate to Windows Vista and move their legacy applications that they can't remediate," says Gavriella Schuster, senior director in Microsoft's Windows Product Management Group.

Schuster says enterprises have had trouble moving about 15 percent of their apps to Vista. In line with that business objective, Microsoft plans to sell Kidaro in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance (SA), the $7-to-$10-per-seat-per-year supplement to SA.

Schuster contends that partners doing desktop deployment for customers will be able to differentiate themselves with Kidaro. Partners working on management optimization of customer environments can also leverage the tools to move toward the management nirvana of independently managed hardware, OSes, apps and data, she adds.

One other category of partners that should be evaluating the Kidaro capabilities, in Schuster's view: the emerging group of systems integrators building soup-to-nuts virtualization practices.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.