Andy Malone reports that Windows Server 2008 RC0 is now offered to TAP customers (Technical Adoption Program). He also thinks that it will be available for download on MSDN soon. Alessandro Perilli of virtualization.info has learned that RC0 will contain Windows Server Virtualization (WSV) aka Viridian.
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According to Malone, Windows Server 2008 is feature complete now. This probably also means that the new hypervisor will really become part of the operating system even though the final of WSV supposedly will only be released within 180 days of the release of Windows Server 2008. Perilli is speculating that Microsoft is planning a hypervisor version for Vista. That could mean that WSV might not only replace Virtual Server 2005 but also Virtual PC 2007 in the long run.
I always wondered how the hypervisor will be integrated in Windows Server 2008. I read before that WSV will be just another server role. Although this seems to be true, adding the WSV role changes more than usual. It will transform the OS in hypervisor mode which means that Windows will be moved to the so-called parent partition.
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This is comparable to VMware's ESX Server. VMware just utilizes a version of Red Hat Linux instead of Windows. One advantage of WSV over ESX will be that the device driver support for Windows is a bit better. ESX will certainly have more advantages, especially because Microsoft dropped some very important WSV features (live migration capabilities, support for up to 32 processor cores, hot-adding of storage, networking hardware, memory, and processors).