Microsoft releases Hyper-V virtualization beta

Microsoft Thursday released the first public beta of its virtualization technology, shipping the bits ahead of its previously planned date in early 2008.

The Hyper-V virtualization beta originally was scheduled to ship when Windows Server 2008 was completed. The server is expected to ship on or before the Feb. 27, 2008, “launch party” Microsoft is hosting in Los Angeles.

Last week, Microsoft shipped Windows Server 2008 RC1 and said it was on track to hit its early-2008 goal. Microsoft said users downloading Windows Server 2008 RC1 Enterprise (x64, English-language version only) will get the beta version of Hyper-V, which formerly was called Windows Server Virtualization and Viridian.

The Hyper-V public beta will give the masses their first look at the technology Microsoft will use to battle for an elite place in the hearts of corporations investing in virtualization. While Microsoft is early with the public beta, the company still plans the final release of Hyper-V within 180 days of the completion of Windows Server 2008. With Hyper-V’s shipping, Microsoft will add a third hypervisor option to go along with those already available from VMware, and Xen-based derivatives marketed by XenSource (acquired by Citrix Systems), Oracle, Red Hat and Novell.

Hypervisor technology is a base technology layer that acts as the virtualization foundation for guest operating systems. Microsoft has been dragging its virtualization plans out into the public eye lately, including last month’s big announcement that it would offer a stand-alone version of Hyper-V that does not require the use of Windows Server 2008.

It was a 180-degree turn from Microsoft’s original position that virtualization is something that ships with the operating system. The company also said at the time that the stand-alone Hyper-V Server already has attracted such hardware vendors as Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Lenovo, NEC and Unisys.

Microsoft announced last month how it will support the final release of Hyper-V on three of the eight versions of Windows Server 2008: Windows Server 2008 Standard will give customers one virtual instance per license, the Enterprise version will provide four virtual instances per license and the Datacenter version will allow unlimited virtual instances per license.

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