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Microsoft, Citrix Extend Source Code Sharing Deal

Citrix Systems and Microsoft announced this week a new technology cross-licensing deal meant to assure the continued enhancement of Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite for Microsoft Windows Terminal Services.

The five-year agreement gives Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix continued access to Windows source code in order to keep its enterprise access software up to date and also provides for patent cross licensing between the two companies.

“[An important part] of the agreement is the collaboration on Terminal Services for Longhorn server,” says Nabeel Youakim, Citrix area vice president for the Microsoft global relationship. Longhorn is the next planned full release of Windows Server. Microsoft's current plans call for a 2007 ship date.

“For existing customers, the agreement will provide enhanced collaboration to achieve continuity to migrate to MetaFrame Presentation Server on Windows Longhorn Server,” Citrix said in a prepared statement.

For Microsoft, the deal provides a clear technology survival strategy for enterprise customers that have made a decision to use Windows Terminal Services for enterprise access. It’s just good business, according to one analyst.

“There are a growing number of folks who feel the environment of the future will be hosted services, whether it’s blades or something else, [and] that’s a more utility-type experience,” says Rob Enderle, principal analyst for technology research firm, The Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif. “Citrix continues to have a tool that lets users step into that world.”

The two companies have a long-running association, dating back to the days when Microsoft was still involved in developing and promoting OS/2. However, their first formal agreement to collaborate on server technology came in 1997 when Microsoft licensed code from Citrix to integrate into Windows NT 4.0 Server, Terminal Server Edition.

Citrix was founded in 1989 by a group of former IBM developers. The company initially focused on OS/2 but later switched to Windows. Today, Citrix claims some 50 million users worldwide and helps to generate as much as $300 million in revenue for Microsoft, Youakim says. Although it has made forays into Unix environments, Citrix still derives 98 percent of its revenue from selling products on Windows environments, he adds.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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