What does Microsoft's Xen relationship mean?

Enterprise computing in 2010 will be seamless, the chip and OS both supporting the application.

Usually, when I write here about Microsoft, it's in a negative way, and the result is very intense debate.

Today I come, not to bury Big Green, but to praise it.

Microsoft's agreement to bridge with Xen, through Xensource, will mean Linux and Windows can run on the same machine, through virtualization. It comes just a few months after Xensource dropped its founders and hired a former Veritas man, Peter Levine, as CEO in an attempt to find a business model for the virtualization software.

The benefit will only be on high-end systems at first, but such things have a way of filtering down.

For enterprises, this is another step in the unbuckling of chips from operating systems. The Wintel days, in other words, are dead. Today the word is virtualization, systems that can run multiple operating systems, switching as you change applications. Enterprise computing in 2010, in other words, will be seamless, the chip and OS both supporting the application.

Microsoft is working with Xen because chip-makers AMD and Intel have both released processors that let unmodified operating systems like Windows run on with Xen virtualization.

The Microsoft technology, Varidian, is still a year away. All this is still a promise, in other words.

What this really means is that the value of an operating system in the future will be determined by the applications it runs, not the chip or system it runs on.

It's a good thing. From Microsoft. Y'all may now return to your regularly-scheduled flame war.