Microsoft PressPass publishes a nice Q&A with virtualization strategist Mike Neil. A few key passages:

On virtualization management

Virtualization is about more than the hypervisor; it’s also about management software, and that’s where vendors differentiate themselves. Microsoft’s comprehensive server virtualization and management solution — which includes management capabilities for both physical and virtual environments — costs about a third of VMware’s competing product. And the upcoming Hyper-V Server 2008 hypervisor will be available for no charge, which makes it even more cost-effective to employ virtualization.

Holistic management is essential to keeping operating costs low. I’m talking about being able to manage, configure, provision, deploy and back up all of your assets — physical and virtual, server and client, regardless of vendor — from a single “pane of glass,” if you will.

Only Microsoft bridges all the management islands common in datacenters today. Our System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which will be released shortly, allows customers to configure and deploy new virtual machines and centrally manage their virtualized infrastructure, whether running on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 or VMware ESX.

On application virtualization

Microsoft’s latest application virtualization package, Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 (App-V 4.5), was released and will be available soon as part of MDOP 2008 R2. App-V 4.5 is a big step forward toward making application virtualization a universally deployed desktop technology. We’ve included new capabilities that will help IT pros support large-scale virtualization implementations across many sites and provide multiple delivery options, including over-the-Internet application delivery.

He also discusses Microsoft's latest contention, that virtualization and cloud computing are intrinsically linked. Maybe. But the app virtualization piece is something that, I think, Microsoft will someday become quite famous for. It's one of those things that will ultimately remove whatever weird backwards compatibility issues companies (and individuals) still have.