VMware has responded to claims made by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer that its virtualisation software is "very expensive".
Fredrik Sjostedt, VMware's EMEA director of product marketing, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that depending on the situation of the customer, Microsoft may be more expensive.
"The cost is around the management of the infrastructure," said Sjostedt. "We are getting a kicking about being expensive, but go look at the cost of the management of Microsoft. It's not black and white."
He added that, on average, VMware was more efficient than Microsoft in terms of cost per application.
Sjostedt was responding to comments made by Steve Ballmer on Monday. At a meeting in London for Microsoft customers, Ballmer said VMware was expensive.
"Why should you spend the money, to get the solution, which is very expensive, in my opinion, from VMware," said Ballmer. "I don't understand why you'd want to spend the money when we'll give you as good or better solution, at much lower cost, and we'll help you manage what you've got on your environment."
However, Sjostedt said Microsoft's main business model of selling desktop and server operating systems was being threatened by virtualisation and bespoke operating systems.
"Why should customers pay for a monolithic operating system, when they can buy an operating system that is just enough [for their needs]?" said Sjostedt. "Steve Ballmer is standing up because [Microsoft] needed to join the game, and we're happy to see them there."
Quocirca principal associate analyst Simon Perry told ZDNet UK said that Microsoft's move to give away its Hyper-V hypervisor had been disruptive to the cost structures of virtualisation.
"Microsoft called everyone's bluff," said Perry. "The money is all in management tools and services [rather than the hypervisor], while previously virtual operating system vendors claimed that the value lay in virtual operating systems."