VMworld 2015: Microsoft and VMware cozy up, forgoing past rivalry

The companies have worked together on a new device management initiative

Microsoft's new, more collaborative approach to the computing industry was on display at VMware's annual conference in San Francisco Tuesday, when executives from both companies shared the stage to talk about new device management features in Windows 10.

As VMware Executive Vice President Sanjay Poonen explained, VMware and Microsoft, historically fierce rivals, have been working together more closely under the leadership of Satya Nadella. That work has now borne fruit in the form of Project A2, a new service that brings together VMware's AirWatch device management service and its App Volumes application delivery technology. Using Project A2, Windows 10 users can log in to their corporate account, get their device set up for use with a company's resources and then get all the applications they need provided straight from IT.

Project A2 is made possible by new tools in Windows 10 that make it easier for IT professionals to provision devices and ensure that they comply with company policy. Microsoft makes use of that with its own device management services, but has also made them available to companies like VMware.

The appearance of Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jim Alkove at VMworld is a significant move that Poonen didn't let go unnoticed. He told the crowd that people backstage at the conference had compared the appearance to Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan working together.

"I think you're the tall Reagan, and I'm the Indian version of Gorbachev," Poonen joked.

Microsoft is singing a very different tune from the position it took last year. During VMworld 2014, Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson took to his blog to discuss everything he thought VMware got wrong with AirWatch and why people should use Microsoft's management tools. (He hasn't yet published anything relating to VMworld this year.)

The charm offensive from Alkove is part of Microsoft's push to get businesses to adopt Windows 10. The company said last week that 1.5 million devices are already running the enterprise edition of its new operating system, and the company said that it plans to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within 3 years. Getting businesses to bring their deployments into the next generation is key for the company's ambitions.

It's also another sign of how the Redmond-based tech giant, under Nadella, is playing nicer with companies that it would have treated more harshly in the past. Microsoft has also doubled down on building out its services for non-Windows platforms, and is working better with companies like Salesforce.com that compete with it.

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