As the person who oversees the development plans, teams and strategy for Microsoft’s virtualization software on desktops and servers, I want to update everyone on the timing of our server virtualization offerings. I know that many of our customers and partners will hear of these changes from their usual Microsoft contacts, but I wanted to personally explain some of the reasons behind the new schedule for Windows Server virtualization (codename Viridian) and Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1. But first, here’s where we stand today:

 

The public beta of Windows Server virtualization will ship in the second half of 2007, not in the first half as previously disclosed.

 

The final version of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 now will be available in Q2, not Q1 as previously stated. In the interim, customers and partners can download a Release Candidate (RC) version later this month - this is code complete and an update to the current beta 2.

 

Up front, it’s important to know that Windows Server “Longhorn” remains on schedule for beta 3 will be this half and RTM in the second half. Iain McDonald and team are doing a great job delivering the next-generation Windows Server OS, which includes in-demand features like TS Gateway, Server Core, Network Access Protection, IIS 7.0, new server manager and failover clustering improvements … to name a few. All the work being done here is designed to deliver a safer, more secure infrastructure and simplify admin tasks. This work will help make customers’ experiences with Windows Server virtualization even better.

                                        

So, you ask, why the schedule change to the beta of Windows Server virtualization? The primary drivers are around meeting our internal goals for performance and scalability.  In an IT environment of ever-growing multi-core processor systems, Windows Server virtualization is being designed to scale across a much broader range of systems than the competition.  We’re designing Windows Server virtualization to scale up to 64 processors, which I’m proud to say is something no other vendor’s product supports.  We are also providing a much more dynamic VM environment with hot-add of processors, memory, disk and networking as well a greater scalability with more SMP support and memory.  Check out Jeff’s demo of Windows Server virtualization running 64-bit Longhorn with an 8-core virtual machine. We still have some work to do to have the beta meet the “scale up” bar we have set. Also, we’re tuning Windows Server virtualization to run demanding enterprise IT workloads, even I/O intensive workloads, so performance is very important and we still have some work to do here.

 

As pointed out earlier, select partners have been testing a private beta version of Windows Server virtualization since December. We’ll continue to rely on partner input as we reach the beta milestone. And as the public beta for Windows Server virtualization nears, we’ll provide guidance on how to add Windows Server virtualization to your systems running Windows Server “Longhorn.” Windows Server virtualization remains on schedule - to be released within 180 days of the release of “Longhorn.”

 

Today we’re also updating the delivery schedule for the service pack of Virtual Server 2005 R2. It’ll be available later this quarter.  In this instance, we required some additional time to test the new operating systems that will be supported with the service pack of Virtual Server R2. We’ve added support for three additional operating systems – SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, Solaris 10 and the recent CTP build of Windows Server “Longhorn.”  An interesting point here -- in less than one year we’ve seen more than 15,000 downloads of the Linux add-ins for Virtual Server 2005 R2, which indicates strong interest to consolidate Linux workloads on Windows Server.

 

We’ve made numerous enhancements with Virtual Server R2 SP1 that allow it to scale (64 VMs on 32-bit Windows Server hosts; 512 VMs on x64 Windows Server hosts) on systems with more memory (up to 256 GB) and more cores.  And we’ve added support for hardware assisted virtualization in the form of Intel VT and AMD-V.  The team is also very proud of their delivery of Virtual PC 2007 and the tremendous interest in the product, with over one million downloads in the first 38 days.

 

I remain confident that Microsoft’s strategy and areas of investments will help customers’ IT systems become more dynamic and self-managing. I’ll talk more about these areas on May 2 during a keynote address at the Server Blades Summit 2007 in Anaheim. I hope to see you there.

 

Mike Neil

general manager, virtualization strategy