For all you Virtual Server fans out there, you'll be pleased to know that the Beta 2 has been released to the public, for you to download and enjoy.
With this release of VS 2005 R2, we can take the opportunity to show some of the cool new features! Also, with the availability of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which is also in Beta, you can now start to realise the benefits of a Microsoft virtualisation solution.
So, at this stage, what does the Beta 2 give you?
You can download the Beta 2 here. Go-do!
Build 5536, also known as Vista pre-RC1 has leapt onto the Internet, ready for the public to download and enjoy. For about a week now, a closed number of testers have been able to download and test the new operating system, and the feedback is already looking pretty good.
For those of you who are running Vista Beta 2, from a month or so back, now is the ideal time to jump on board with this release - I promise you, you will notice the difference, especially around speed and reliability. I admit, it still isn't perfect, but it's getting better, quickly. You'll have to be quick though, the program will be closed when it reaches 100,000 downloads.
Get along to the download site to start downloading straight away! you can download it in two ways:
Bear in mind, that you can only download the 32-bit version for now, and it comes in ISO format, so your DVD-Burning skills will need to be up to scratch to take advantage of your huge download!
In an article over at TechWeb; "Our goal in offering this build publicly is to help identify and track issues before RC1 is designated for release," wrote Nick White, a Vista product manager, on the group's blog. "Despite being so close to the actual release date of RC1, the download, installation and usage feedback you send us on this build is still extremely important, otherwise, we'd not be spending resources on this interim build."
Makes sense really!
If you can't wait for the full RC1, then get over to the download site and get yourself in the RC1 action!
I recently wrote an article all about virtualisation, and it has been published on Microsoft.com! The article was written with our partners in mind, with the aim of giving the reader the opportunity to gain an understanding of what virtualisation is, the forms it can take, and how it can benefit you.
The article covers:
You can view the whole article by visiting this link! Enjoy!
I'm now off to start work on my auto-biography, which should be in shops soon! ;-)
A big thanks goes to Jeff Woolsey, one of the Lead Program Manager's here at Microsoft, for compiling this excellent list of the top 15 questions asked around Virtual Server. Without further ado, lets start with number 15...
15 - Is it true that Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE is now FREE?
Yes, that is indeed correct. Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE has been free since April 2006. We have had more than 340,000 downloads to date. If you are interested in discovering the benefits of virtualisation, through Virtual Server, head on over to http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
14 - I’ve just installed Virtual Server. Where are my virtual machines and operating systems?
Virtual Server is an enabling technology and product. Virtual Server provides the virtualisation layer giving you the ability to run multiple virtual machines on top of a Windows Server host. Once you’ve installed Virtual Server, you must create virtual machines and install operating systems just as if someone gave you a computer with a completely blank hard drive. Virtual Server does not include guest operating systems.
13 - How do you back up virtual machines?
There are two ways to backup a virtual machine. Each method has pros and cons and users can determine which method best suits their business requirements.
Method 1Backup each virtual machine from within each guest operating system. Install the backup software in the guest operating system and backup each virtual machine in the same way you would a physical computer.The advantages to this method are:
The disadvantages to this method are:
Method 2Backup all virtual machines from the host operating system. The second method is to backup the Virtual Server host. You can backup the entire host computer and all virtual machines at once, but this can only be performed on stopped/saved virtual machines. The downside is that this is not a “live” backup. You MUST shutdown or save state the virtual machine to perform the backup. To backup the host operating system without stopping/saving a virtual machine would be like pulling the power code on a physical computer and then making a copy of the HD. The HD might boot next time but checkdisk would certainly need to run and it is likely there is corrupt user data.
The issue is that when a backup is performed on the host, this operation backs up files on disk but does not include the memory in use by the running virtual machine. For example, if you allocated 2GB to a virtual machine and backed up the host operating system, there is potentially 2GB of virtual machine data not backed up! To safely backup a virtual machine, the entire state of the virtual machine must be backed up which includes:
It is possible that someone could automate this process. For example, a script could be written to save the state of the virtual machines and backup the host operating system, but such a script is not included with the product.
The advantage to this method is that:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Method 2 is not recommended if you’re running a domain controller in a virtual machine. If you are using a domain controller in a virtual machine, always use Method 1. For more information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en
12 - How many virtual machines can you run per physical processor?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question. There are simply too many variables. Performance of virtual machines depends on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to:
As a broad generality, we’ve heard of people using anywhere between 1 to 10 virtual machines per physical processor with the average being 4 to 6. (In the case of 10 virtual machines, these were very lightly loaded NT servers.) However, as stated above the number of virtual machines really depends on the multitude of factors above.
11 - Can you run a domain controller within a Virtual Server virtual machine?
Yes. For detailed information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en10.
10 - Do we have performance tips for Virtual Server?
Of course! - Visit KB: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;903748
9 - What Microsoft products are supported within Virtual Server?
KB: 897613 Microsoft Virtual Server Support Policy: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897613
KB: 897614 Windows Server System software not supported within a Microsoft Virtual Server environment: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897614
8 - Are additional versions of Virtual Server planned?
Yes. We are working on the next release of Virtual Server. It is called, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 and is publicly available in beta form today at http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
Some of the key points of this release include:
7 - I’ve heard that Virtual Server 2005 R2 now supports clustering, where can I find more information?
You can find the information by following this link. The document describes a simple configuration in which you use Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 to configure one guest operating system, and configure a server cluster that has two servers (nodes), either of which can support the guest if the other server is down.
6 - Does Virtual Server support Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) in the guest?
No, unfortunately not. Microsoft have publicly stated that this will be providing this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
5 - Does Virtual Server support USB?
No, unfortunately not. Again, we have stated publicly that we are working on this feature for our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
4 - Does Virtual Server support 64-bit hosts and guests?
Virtual Server 2005 R2 adds support for x64 64-bit hosts. Unfortunately, Virtual Server does not support 64-bit guests. We have already stated publicly that we will provide this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
3 - What is Windows Virtualisation? When does it arrive?
Windows Virtualisation is virtualisation technology incorporated into Longhorn Server. The current plan of record for Windows Virtualisation is that it ships within 180 days of the Longhorn Server release.
2 - What will I need to run Windows Server Virtualisation? What are the system requirements?
Windows Server Virtualisation has the following system requirements:
To be explicit, Windows Server Virtualisation will NOT run on:
1 - What are some of the key differences between Virtual Server R2 and Windows Server Virtualisation?
Virtual Server 2005 R2
Yes, up to 8 core VMs
VM memory support?
3.6 GB per VM
More than 32 GB per VM
Hot add memory/processors?
Hot add storage/networking?
Can be managed by SCVMM?
Number of running VMs?
More than 64.As many as hardware will allow.
MMC 3.0 Interface
Thanks again to Jeff Woolsey for this information.
With High Definition gathering momentum, I think it is important to clarify where Windows Vista stands in this space, as over the past few days, there has been some confusion about what will or won't be possible with Vista and High Definition disk formats.
Basically, a couple of days ago, it was highlighted on the internet, that 32-bit Vista would not support either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray - it would only be supported on 64-bit hardware running 64-bit Vista. The reasoning behind this? "At a session during TechEd 2006 in Sydney Thursday, Microsoft's Steve Riley asserted that because 32-bit versions of Windows must support unsigned drivers being loaded into the kernel, the company could not ensure that HD movies would be copy protected".
However, a day later, Microsoft took the chance to clarify the situation. As it stands, according to Nick White, Vista Product Manager:
"The real deal is that no version of Windows Vista will make a determination as to whether any given piece of content should play back or not. The individual ISV providing the playback solutions will choose whether the playback environment, including environments that use 32-bit processors, meet the performance requirements for playback of protected High Definition content"
For those of you like me, who haven't embraced the world of High Definition yet (give me chance! ;) ), it's good to know that standard DVD support will be included in the Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, which means consumers will not need to purchase third party software to play movies as they do with Windows XP. So for the time being, I can be safe in the knowledge that the impeccable Windows Media Player 11 will play my standard format DVD's. Great stuff!
If you are running Windows Media Player 10, and haven't tried Windows Media Player 11 yet - what are you doing! It's currently in the beta and is available for download! Go do!
A couple of days ago, in a publicly available invitation, Microsoft offered help to Mozilla, (who oversee development of the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client) to ensure compatibility between their products, and Windows Vista.
The article goes on to say that "Microsoft is committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open-source projects". Personally, I believe this is a great move from Microsoft. We accept that not everyone wants to use Internet Explorer, and at the same time, we know that choice is important, so if people want to use other browsers, we want to ensure those browsers work with our software and systems. The article states "it remains to be seen whether Mozilla and the open-source community will respond positively" yet, on the 24th August, Mozillla accepted the invitation.
Mozilla have already been doing some testing on Vista, and have been working to ensure that they take advantage of the new 'Default Program' infrastructure in Vista. Default Program is a new feature Microsoft has added to Vista to avoid the problem of applications taking over common functions, such as playing music or browsing the Web, from each other. Rather than letting competing applications fight, it will give the user a single interface for deciding which programs should do which jobs. I believe this a great addition to Vista, and really simplifies the task of deciding what programs you want to perform specific tasks.
In the Default Programs window, you can either set all the defaults for a program, i.e. for Windows Media Player 11, you can use the program to open all file types and protocols that it can actually open, or alternatively, you can go into selecting the individual defaults that the program should open. If need be, you can override the Default Program for a particular file type, by right-clicking on the file in question, and selecting 'Open with' and selecting your program appropriately.
As an interesting final point...
"Both Microsoft and Mozilla appear keen to bury the idea that the two are warring tribes when it comes to open source. This recent move by Microsoft to openly welcome Mozilla and its browser, even though Firefox is the principle competition for its own Internet Explorer, appears to be part of a new trend for the company"
Speaking of browsers, Microsoft has just released the RC1 of IE7, which you can download from here.
As you will no doubt be aware, Internet Explorer 7 has been going through the beta stages for a while now, and with Release Candidate 1 fresh on the scene, Microsoft hopes that this will indeed be the last test release before the launch later this year.
CNet News has a great feature on the RC1 release, which will be available as a free download (legitimate copy of Windows required). With regards to what's new in IE7, the article states "Among the key enhancements are tabbed browsing, security enhancements and better compatibility with Web standards ... In part because of the security changes, Microsoft plans to push out IE7 as a "high-priority" update to Windows XP. The company is also releasing a tool that will allow businesses to block the upgrade if they wish"
Steve Clayton has located an excellent piece on eWeek, which shows images of the new security features in IE7. Steve also talks about the 'Safe Button' which provides an instant 'return to secure defaults' at the click of the mouse. Great news for all you tinkerers out there!
Partner in crime, Mr Senior also has a great post on IE7, but in this case, he talks about some of the CSS Fixes in IE7. If you are web developer, it would be well worth checking it out.
Go Do - Download the RC1 of Windows Internet Explorer!
Reports over at CNet suggest Microsoft is planning some sort of promotion to allow those who buy PCs this year to move easily and affordably to Vista when it ships next year. The end-of-year sales season is very important to the computer industry, yet Vista will not ship in time to be pre-installed on these machines, however, that doesn't mean computer makers won't be trying to sell the new operating system this holiday season.
Windows unit head Kevin Johnson told CNet in May that the company was looking into offering some sort of technology guarantee for holiday PC buyers. The article goes on to say that "some analysts expect Microsoft to offer coupons for free, or nearly free, updates to Vista. However, the upgrade may only be to the basic version. That would mean customers will have to pay more for the Home Premium version of Vista, which includes the new Aero graphical interface, Media Center software and other features".
Just hours after a posted a huge post summarising all things Zune, there has been a big announcement about the manufacturer of the device.
Over on the BBC's website, it states that "Microsoft has confirmed that Japanese firm Toshiba will make its portable media player - "Zune" - to be released before the end of the year. Toshiba's filing with the Federal Communications Commission showed the Zune will have a 30-gigabyte hard-disk drive and wireless connection", confirming what was stated in my previous post. Toshiba has used Microsoft's software in its products for a long time now, dating back to its first laptop in 1985. The company has also made portable media players and handheld computers using the slimmed-down Windows CE operating system.
There is even more information available over at CNet News, which states that "Microsoft's forthcoming Zune player is shooting to be the life of the party, allowing users to create mobile social networks and stream music to nearby friends or strangers, according to a government regulatory filing".
The articles goes on to say that Zune owners can act as their own DJ, sending streaming music content to up to four other devices and with the device's wireless networking abilities turned on, people can send and receive photos, as well as "promotional copies of songs, albums and playlists.
"As regards the DJ feature, people have the option of turning the feature on or off, as well as of choosing whether to stream to any nearby Zune user or only to people on their friends list. If the DJ setting is on, people don't need to do anything else to allow others to listen to their music. The music sent is the same as what the DJ is listening to; if they stop listening, the stream is interrupted"
The article also goes on to mention the draft user manual, which details that the device supports both the 802.11b and 802.11g wireless standards. and comes with a 30GB hard drive, a 3-inch screen and an FM tuner, along with a USB 2.0 connection to synchronize with a PC.
"Sync your music, movies and pictures," reads one page from the manual.
You can find even more information over at Engadget, which includes a number of pictures of the internals of the Zune device. Sweet!
Firstly, apologies for the incredibly weak link between a UK Quiz Show from the 1980's, and Microsoft's sparkly new music and entertainment project; Zune. It's still early on a Friday morning - it will get better, I promise!
I posted a couple of weeks ago, about how Microsoft is going to challenge the iPod (Part I and Part II), but since then, a whole host of information has been released, so I thought I'd take the chance to summarise it all here in one convenient place.
So, what do we know so far? Firstly, it's important to understand that Zune describes the brand, not the individual product, backed up by Chris Stephenson who, in this article on CNet News, stated "Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year". The article goes on to discuss some of the features of the devices that will come under the Zune brand, including Wi-Fi connectivity, Hard-Disk storage and also Video capabilities. With Zune, "we're looking to build a community for connecting with folks, all to discover new music and entertainment".
In this article, over at eWeek, analysts say that Microsoft's Zune "May not carry the day" yet they accept, that it is currently too early to tell for sure - only consumers will decide. I, as a consumer, believe that if Microsoft can integrate all the parts together, such as the music service, the hardware and other hardware such as the Xbox, it could pose a serious challenge to the iPod, however, by releasing the device, we will in fact be competing with some of the partners we have worked with on music devices, such as Creative. The article goes on to say that the first of the Zune devices should be available before Christmas this year.
As I mentioned, one of the features planned for the Zune devices, is Wi-Fi connectivity, and this article, over at CNet, goes some of the way to describe the importance of this feature. In an interview with Billboard magazine, Microsoft General Manager Chris Stephenson said "the company is still considering seven or eight "scenarios," including using the Wi-Fi connection for direct music downloads and sampling music from other nearby listeners". That would be an excellent feature - streaming other people's music to see if you like it, then logging onto the web, via Wi-Fi to purchase and download the music yourself!
Regardless of the Wi-Fi connection, Gartner analyst Michael McGuire believes "the key will be how easy or difficult the gadget is for consumers to use. For example, designing an interface that enables downloading music from a catalog without using a keyboard is tricky" This is an excellent point, but if you look at the new interface in Windows Media Player 11, and how much of an improvement it was from Windows Media Player 10, you can begin to see how much Microsoft are putting into the user interface, and how intuitive it really is.
If Microsoft could squeeze a Media Center, or Media Player 11 style interface into the Zune products, perhaps with some kind of touch screen or hand writing functionality into the device, I believe that it would be the most intuitive portable entertainment device on the market. Microsoft would not be the first company to produce a wireless music device; MusicGremlin recently hit the market with a player that can download subscription music content wirelessly. But, as with all Microsoft products, there is always some scepticism; "It's very easy to create a wireless device," he said. "It's very difficult to make it work and connect in the way that a lot of people envision".
Speaking of how much Microsoft is putting into the project, this article over at CNet, details that Robbie Bach, President of the Entertainment and Devices Division, thinks "of this in the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment over several years. It is something that is going to take time. This is not a six-month initiative". Bach goes on to say "Microsoft is not abandoning its partner-oriented PlaysForSure program, even as it looks to build its rival Zune approach. PlaysForSure continues as it is today. We're going to continue to support that".
As time grows closer to the end of the calendar year, and the launch of the first Zune device, more concrete details have been released. You can read about them in this Twice article. The article states that the device will arrive in 3 colours, and will be priced at $299 (hopefully this price will be around £160 in the UK / 234 EURO). "Retailers said the player would incorporate a 30GB hard drive. One said the unit’s display screen would be larger than Apple’s iPod models. The retailers were pleased with Microsoft’s feature-per-price package". It is important to note that Microsoft had not yet responded to confirm these details.
The most recent news, and an excellent feather in the Zune cap, is the announcement that EMI Group, the world's third-largest music company, said it had signed a deal to provide preloaded music videos on Microsoft's soon-to-launch Zune digital media player. The news dispels speculation in media reports this month that Microsoft would have to delay the introduction of Zune's video capability until after its launch, which is expected to be in time for Christmas.
So, to summarise:
What a long post! Hope you get this far!