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Microsoft is releasing an early version of Hyper-V, its virtualization software, ahead of schedule. Microsoft is competing head-on with high-flyer VMware, which went public in a much-hyped IPO earlier this year. The company, which is majority owned by EMC, is off 20 percent from its all-time high last month. For the 99 percent of you whose business card doesn't say "IT Peon," here's what this means.

Virtualization allows one computer to run multiple "virtual machines," with different operating systems. If one crashes, it won't bring the others down, and also allows for better security and more efficient allocation of resources. At the end of the day, this billion-dollar-spat between Microsoft and VMware means one thing to non-sysadmins: You can get away with cutting your hardware budget next year. Sorry, Dell.