At the IDF (Intel Developers Forum) yesterday, Microsoft made the announcement I've been waiting to go public on for a couple of months now. Virtual Server 2005 SP1 is no more. Well, that isn't exactly true, the changes which are present for those of you beta-testing SP1 will be released, and in the same timeframe (ie end of this year) but it is now going to be called Virtual Server 2005 R2. This ties in very much with the Windows Server 2003 R2 release also due at the end of this year.
To recap on some of the changes in Virtual Server 2005 R2, you will see x64 host support, changes to ease the use of Virtual Server on hyperthreaded architectures, PXE booting, performance improvements, both when running guests and installing guests (the SCSI shunt driver being one of those improvements for example) and the support of non-Microsoft guest OS's including Linux and Solaris.
As you are no-doubt already aware, announcements back at the MMS this year for the future of virtualisation within the Microsoft product set, specifically the "hypervisor" or Windows Virtualisation in the Longhorn Server timeframe. This still stands, but many of you felt there was a long way between SP1/R2 of Virtual Server 2005 and that future release. Hence, there will be a future release/update to Virtual Server due out which is due to beta in the first half of next year and release in the second half of next year. Un-named currently, and also at this stage, without detailed public specifics on what will be in this release, significantly it will take advantage of the VT and Pacifica technologies present in Intel/AMD processors. This will make the transition towards windows virtualisation in the future much easier.