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Licensing agreements for 41 server applications will now allow businesses to move applications from one server to another as required. This is instead of only once every 90 days under previous reassignment rules.
Neil Sanderson, Microsoft's UK product manager for virtualisation and management, said: "We've been trying to evolve our licensing as part of our virtualisation strategy over time and we've been adapting it to what customers are telling us."
Virtualisation enables businesses to host multiple servers on single hardware appliances and enables them to move applications around to use server space efficiently. Sanderson said in the past businesses did not need to move licenses around as much.
Applications affected by the changes include the enterprise edition of SQL Server 2008, the standard and enterprise versions of Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Microsoft System Center products.
Microsoft has also announced it is extending technical support for 31 server applications on virtualisation software from third party suppliers including VMWare, Cisco, Citrix, Novell, Virtual Iron Software and Sun Microsystems.
These are all members of Microsoft's Server Virtualisation Validation Program announced in June 2008 that enables suppliers to test and validate its software to run Windows Server 2008 and previous versions.
Sanderson said the licensing and support announcements were part of Microsoft's long-term strategy to ease virtualisation.
Simon Aron, managing director of IT service provider Eurodata systems, said Microsoft is trying to make virtualisation less costly and complicated.
He said Microsoft is encouraging virtualisation because it is about to release a cross-platform virtualisation management tool as well as several applications suited to the virtualisation environment.
"They want to lead the market in virtualisation and believe they can virtualise the core applications that fit highest in the market, like Exchange and SQL," he said.