Microsoft announced late Wednesday that it was buying the virtual machine assets of Connectix, which makes the excellent Virtual PC line of products. The company says that the Connectix technology will enable Microsoft to support a virtual machine (VM) solution by adding tools that will help customers consolidate server resources, reducing hardware capital expenditures and operating costs. Microsoft purchased both the server and client versions of Connectix's virtual machine technologies, which runs on Windows server and desktop OSes and on the Macintosh.

"Our customers told us they wanted a best-of-breed virtual machine solution that enables them to run their legacy Windows applications, even as they migrate to more modern operating system technology," says Bill Veghte, the corporate vice president of the Windows Server Group at Microsoft. "With this acquisition, we are committed to delivering this solution for our customers and providing the support they need both today and in the future."

Despite concerns from the Mac community that Microsoft's purchase of most of Connectix's assets means that the Mac version of Virtual PC was dead, Microsoft says this isn't the case at all, and the company intends to continue improving the product. "Adding Virtual PC to its product portfolio is yet another example of Microsoft's continued commitment to the Mac platform," said Ron Okamoto, vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple. "We're glad to see Virtual PC go into such good hands."

But the real reason Microsoft purchased the technology is Connectix Virtual Server, a beta product which will eventually help the company migrate customers off of the legacy Windows NT 4.0 system. By virtualizing multiple NT environments on a single server, Microsoft customers can continue supporting legacy applications and services in a cost-effective way, the company says. Microsoft will release a preview version of Virtual Server on April 15, with the final version expected by the end of the year.