Microsoft acquires Calista Technologies

With a terrible gaffe Forbes just broke the news of a new acquisition by Microsoft, to be officially announced tomorrow.

The company is Calista Technologies, a stealth startup focus on what is called today presentation virtualization (aka desktop remoting). Few details about its solution, Calista Virtual Desktop (CVD), are available at today beside the list of supported hypervisors, VMware and Citrix ones, along with Microsoft Terminal Services platform.

On the paper CVD has some real potential, also able to impact the growing market of multimedia thin clients (like NEC VPCC):

CVD provides support for 100% of all file and streaming media types available for a modern Windows desktop experience without the need for dedicated hardware or software on the client. Specifically, CVD eliminates the need for media player software and software codecs that increase client management costs, and which impact client interfaces when media codecs are not available for a particular application or client platform.

CVD optimizes the RDP protocol to drastically reduce network bandwidth requirements and improve the user experience in bandwidth-constrained and high-latency environments. For example, CVD’s patent pending, visually lossless compression algorithm achieves data accelerations of as much as 20x supporting a high quality standard business desktop usage, including rich media, at 1Mbit/s per user…

So while VMware acquires Thinstall, invading a space, application virtualization, where Microsoft is dominant, Microsoft acquires Calista, preparing to invade a space, VDI, where VMware is traditionally the leader.

But there’s another interesting perspective: while Microsoft is implictly admitting that its Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not optimized for multimedia streaming, with the acquisition and future integration of Calista CVD the company is going to overlap Citrix ICA more than ever.

Startup founder, Neal Margulis, provides some additional insight about its technology:

Well, think of us as the people that have set out to create technology which, when IT departments deploy centralized desktops and applications, ensures that users will enjoy the same rich user experience as with a locally executing desktop: Full 3D graphics with support for DirectX, Vista Aero and WPF applications, full frame rate video with 100% coverage for all media types, and fully synchronized audio. Except that “their” desktop is actually running in the data center, and they are accessing it remotely using Microsoft’s remote desktop protocol (RDP)…

Is Microsoft turning its partnership with Citrix on virtualization in a competition? It doesn’t seem so: the two just announced full interoperability between hypervisors, management tools and connection brokers.

Update: Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, just clarified that Calista technology will be integrated in Microsoft RDP protocol, serving for both VDI and standard terminal services environments.