Second beta for MS Virtual Server upgrade released

AMD support gets built in and more support for virtualisation

Microsoft has announced general availability of a second beta version of the SP1 update to its Virtual Server 2005 R2 product.

Available for download from the 31st August, this beta adds support for the AMD-V hardware virtualisation recently introduced by AMD on its Revision F Opteron processors, further adding to the Intel VT support provided in beta 1.

According to Jim Ni, Group Product Manager for Windows Server Marketing, support for both AMD and Intel virtualization technologies, will provide customers with better interoperability, improved performance for non-Windows guest operating systems and strengthened isolation, preventing corruption in one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system.

The beta 2 release also features enhancements to Active Directory integration and support for the Windows Volume Shadow Service, to give improved support for backup and disaster recovery of virtual machines.

According to Ni, support for the Volume Shadow Service will enable Virtual Server customers to take a snapshot in real time of a complete virtual server host, including guest operating systems.

Windows Vista will also be supported as a guest OS when the SP1 update becomes generally available, sometime in Q1 2007. Added to which it will allow for offline virtual hard disk (VHD) mounting, enabling customers to view and manipulate files in a VHD without having to start the related virtual machine. For example, to deploy scripts or scan inactive virtual machines for viruses.

A beta of Virtual PC 2007 is, similarly, scheduled for release later this year, adding support for Windows Vista, 64-bit hosts and the hardware-assisted virtualization technologies provided by the latest AMD and Intel processors.

According to Ni, Microsoft's long awaited "hypervisor" virtualisation technology, now known as Windows Server Virtualisation is also still on track for release within 180 days of the next version of Windows Server (Longhorn).

Designed to compete against VMWare Infrastructure 3, Windows Server Virtualisation will only be available for 64-bit platforms and will be dependent on Intel or AMD processors with hardware virtualisation. It is not expected to replace the Virtual Server product, which will remain a free download.

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