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Microsoft buys virtualization tot for help with Vista

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Microsoft has tapped into its vast cash reserves and found some coin to drop on Kidaro - a young desktop virtualization software maker.

Kidaro first revealed itself to the world in late 2006, talking up a "virtual workspace for enterprise desktop computing." Like so many start-ups, Kidaro's website suffers from a condition known as waffle-packing where the vendor fails to say much of anything about what it actually does. As far as we can tell, however, the company provides some basic tools around desktop virtual machine management.

For example, Kidaro lets administrators create various so-called "golden images" of desktop software packages. These are basically approved bundles of operating systems, applications and add-ons such as a VPN that can be sent out to user machines via a web server. So, a user can, for example, request the company's basic desktop package and receive a virtual machine with all of the requisite software at his client.

Kidaro also lets administrators set policies around the lifetime of a user's virtual machine.

For task-oriented computing (e.g., call centers, customer support and trading floors), administrators can provide a locked-down, pre-configured set of applications that users cannot modify or impair. Kidaro enables this capability via vDNA technology, which virtualizes personal data and settings on the desktop, while automatically reverting the OS and applications to a stable, corporate-approved state at the beginning of every session.

This type of management software is becoming very common in the virtualization game and is more or less a must for any of the serious large platform players like Microsoft, VMware, Citrix and Parallels.

Microsoft has spent years working on desktop virtualization both through its ancient acquisition of Connectix, which morphed into Virtual Server, and more recent efforts around creating a brand-new virtualization software base. Despite this focus on virtualization wares, Microsoft obviously feels it's missing a few bits and pieces.

The Kidaro buy follows the recent purchase of Calista - a start-up that produced software capable of transferring virtual machines out from the data center to desktops. It would seem that Calista and Kidaro will play well together.

VMware and Citrix have been busy as well on the acquisition front, which is understandable given the intense current interest around virtualization software. We're starting to wonder, however, if the acquirers aren't getting overly aggressive. In many cases, they're buying very immature companies with unproven technology. Not that such considerations have ever stopped wealthy technology companies from poor acquisition choices in the past. So, play on.

Microsoft declined to reveal a purchase price for Kidaro.

The Beast did, however, say that Kidaro's software will eventually make its way into the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, where it can be accessed via an add-on subscription.

The magic of Kidaro - try to imagine Gob from Arrested Development saying the name - will help Microsoft customers deal with "Windows Vista migrations, the deployment of managed virtual PCs to Windows desktops and the tension between IT control and user flexibility," so Redmond told the world in a statement. ®

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