This morning at Microsoft Management Summit 2005, Steve Ballmer announced the availability of Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta. To view an on-demand Web cast of Steve's talk (including Jeff Woolsey's demonstration of Virtual Server 2005 SP1), go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/mgmtsummit/keynotes.asp.
SP1 contains the latest software updates for Virtual Server 2005. SP1 includes the following new features (detailed later in this post):
• Support for additional host operating systems, including 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP• Virtual Disk Precompactor• Performance enhancements• Built-in support for network installations• Reserved disk space for saved state files• Virtual floppy disk for pre-loading virtual SCSI drivers• Support for hyperthreading
In addition to these features, Steve announced that support will be expanded for third-party operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, and other x86 operating systems to better meet the needs of customers with heterogeneous environments. Steve also announced that we are licensing royalty-free our VHD file format to promote a consistent and widely-adopted virtual machine file format for Windows to dramatically improve security, reliability and cost efficiency for customers.
To sign up for the Beta program
In addition to the host operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following host operating systems:
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 1• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition Service Pack 1• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2• Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
In addition to the guest operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following guest operating systems:
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 1 • Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
SP1 includes Virtual Disk Precompactor, a utility designed to "zero out"—that is, overwrite with zeros—any available blank space on a virtual hard disk (VHD). We recommend that you use Virtual Disk Precompactor before you compact a dynamically expanding VHD in order to create a smaller compacted VHD.
Changes have been made to the way that Virtual Server allocates physical memory to guest operating systems. In some scenarios, this could result in significant performance improvements.
PXE boot support has been added to the virtual machine network adapter. This means that when the appropriate network infrastructure is in place, you can perform a network installation of a guest operating system without needing a PXE boot floppy disk.
With SP1, Virtual Server now reserves sufficient space on the physical disk to save the state of each running virtual machine. It does this when the virtual machine starts up by creating an empty saved state (.vsv) file equal to amount of memory allocated to the virtual machine plus a 20 MB buffer.
SP1 includes a virtual floppy disk, SCSI Shunt Driver.vfd, that you can use to load the emulated SCSI drivers during installation of a Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, or Windows XP Professional guest operating system. This will speed the installation when the virtual hard disk is attached to a virtual SCSI adapter.
With Virtual Server 2005, we recommended that you disable hyperthreading on the host operating system to improve the performance of your virtual machines. With SP1, this is no longer necessary. Hyperthreading does not affect virtual machine performance.