Today Microsoft announced that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now available as a free download. This also will apply to the forthcoming service pack 1 of Virtual Server 2005 R2. In addition, Microsoft announced the availability of virtual machine add-ins for Linux and a technical product support model for Linux guest operating systems running on Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Resource management has always been part of the operating system, and over the years, customers have been able to obtain this functionality as an integrated part of their operating system platform. As Microsoft releases its Windows hypervisor technology in the Windows Server "Longhorn" wave, customers will be receiving the benefits of virtualization as part of the Windows Server operating system. Today’s price change makes it easier for customers to access and experience the benefits of virtualization technology.

With Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, customers can run up to four virtual operating systems on one physical server at no additional cost. Today’s announcement enables customers to easily and cost-effectively run Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition with Virtual Server 2005 R2 for server consolidation, application re-hosting, disaster recovery, and software test and development.

Virtual Machine Add-ins and Technical Support for Linux Guest Operating Systems

Starting today, customers can consolidate their Linux-based applications on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 and receive 24-hour support from Microsoft. In order to improve the interoperability of Linux guest operating systems and Virtual Server 2005 R2, Microsoft is releasing virtual machine add-ins that can be installed in Linux guests to help improve the following capabilities:

Guest and Host synchronization for time sync, heartbeat, and coordinated shutdown

Mouse and display driver function

SCSI disk emulation

The virtual machine add-ins will soon be available as a free download, and will be supported for an initial set of nine Linux distributions listed below:

Enterprise distributions:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 (update 6)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 (update 6)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4

Novell’s SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9

Standard distributions:

Red Hat Linux 7.3

Red Hat Linux 9.0

Novell’s SuSE Linux 9.2

Novell’s SuSE Linux 9.3

Novell’s SuSE Linux 10.0

Microsoft is committed to providing a positive customer experience when running supported Linux operating systems as guests in Virtual Server 2005 R2. Therefore, the product support model for these configurations will be consistent with existing customer support for Virtual Server products. Customers who report interoperability issues with Linux guests or virtual machine add-ins will be routed to a team that is specially trained to troubleshoot issues related to Linux guests within Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Roadmap

To foster interoperability of virtualization technologies, Microsoft continues to license royalty-free the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format of Microsoft Virtual Server. There are now more than 45 vendors signed up in this royalty-free license program, including Akimbi, Brocade, Diskeeper, Fujitsu-Siemens, Network Appliance, Platespin, Softricity, Virtual Iron, and XenSource. As a common virtualization file format, the VHD format enables Microsoft partners to innovate new virtual machine solutions, and provides customers with a smooth transition path to future Microsoft virtualization software, such as the Windows hypervisor.

As previously announced, Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 is scheduled for a beta release in Q2 and general availability in early 2007. This service pack will support the hardware virtualization capabilities developed by AMD and Intel. By supporting both AMD Virtualization and Intel Virtualization Technology, customers will be provided better interoperability, strengthened isolation designed to help prevent corruption of one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system, and improved performance for non-Windows guest operating systems. The service pack will also support Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service, providing better support for backup and disaster recovery. Finally, this service pack will provide existing Microsoft Virtual Server customers an important transition to the Windows hypervisor, which will be delivered in the Windows Server "Longhorn" wave.

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a key deliverable for Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), a commitment from Microsoft and its partners to deliver self-managing dynamic systems. Customers deploying Virtual Server 2005 R2 can drive up hardware efficiencies, create flexible disaster and recovery environments, and rapidly provision new applications to better align IT with their business needs.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/evaluation/news/bulletins/vs05pricing.mspx