Microsoft Hyper-V now supports Linux-based CentOS

Supported guest OSes also include Red Hat Linux, Suse Linux, and, of course, Windows

Microsoft has added support for another Linux server distribution with its Hyper-V virtualization software, its latest move to compete better with virtualization market leader EMC VMware.

Customers can now run the CentOS flavor of Linux as a guest operating system in supported Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environments, said Sandy Gupta, general manager for marketing in Microsoft's Open Solutions Group.

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Microsoft already supports Hyper-V environments that include Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise Server. It added CentOS because it's a popular distribution for hosting providers, a market Microsoft hopes to do well in.

Once contemptuous of open source, Microsoft has become more pragmatic about Linux in recent years. The company has realized it must interoperate with Linux and other OSes if it wants to do well in data centers, which are typically mixed environments.

"We've found that the Microsoft-only IT shop -- even in the smallest organizations -- is becoming a thing of the past," said Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "It's important for Microsoft to recognize this fact of life and extend support to various Linux operating systems if it wants Hyper-V to come out on top in the virtualization wars."

At the same time, Microsoft continues to assert that Linux and other open-source software products violate various patents that it holds.

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