I wrote a review about VMRCPlus a while ago. It is a nifty free tool from Microsoft that can replace the Web interface of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. VMRCPlus has a graphical user interface that allows you to manage Virtual Server in a much more convenient way than with the original Web-based user interface. Version 1.6 has some new interesting features.
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The first thing I tried after I installed the tool is the snapshot feature. With VMRCPlus 1.5, I was able to create snapshots, but the recovery option was always grayed out. So I was pleased to see that after updating to version 1.6, I was allowed to recover a virtual machine. However, this feature still doesn't work for me. All I got is this error message: Unhandled exception has occurred in your application (see screenshot). After that, the virtual machine was not even displayed anymore in VMRCplus. I had to add the virtual machine to make it visible again.
This snapshot feature was the only thing that didn't work during my brief test. So I think VMRCPlus 1.6 is a good enough replacement for Virtual Server's user interface. It is interesting to note that VMRCPlus can create snapshots while the guest system is online. Not even System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), Microsoft's more sophisticated management tool for Virtual Server, can do that. Well, at least, the snapshot feature (checkpoints), works there (most of the time).
What I like about VMRC 1.6 is that you can manage multiple Virtual Server hosts with one central interface. It is not so convenient as with VMM, though. All in all, it seems to me that Microsoft has to work a little harder to make its user interfaces for Virtual Server a bit more reliable.
Aaron Tiensivu summarized the new features:
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- To reflect the terminology used in the web administration UI of Virtual Server, the terminology of VMRCplus has been updated.
- VMRCplus now offers configuration of scripts on both the Virtual Server and Virtual Machine level. This was missing from the previous release.
- VMRCplus offers configuring promiscuous mode on the network so you can trace traffic in the virtual switch. This is something Virtual Server does not offer in the web administration UI.
- Minor enhancements like storage of Console Manager coordinates, conflict handling when a shortcut already exists (something Virtual Server fails to resolve).
- The COM and LPT port assignment logic has been fixed (most of it did not work).
- The x86 installer package no longer installs on x64. This has been done to prevent issues with 32-bit VMRCplus on 64-bit Virtual Server.
- Error handling has been enhanced and several issues have been fixed.