Microsoft Sets Virtual Server Free

In a not-so-unexpected move, Microsoft announced today that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now available for free download.  The only “catch” is that you must register using your Passport to gain access to the download.  But seriously, if you’re interested in Virtual Server, something as simple as Passport registration won’t stand in your way.

Note: On my first visit to the download page (following registration) I couldn’t find the download links.  I’m used to them appearing right at the top, or in some cases toward the bottom in a table.  To increase uptake of this download, Microsoft decided to hide the links in the middle of the page :P  In fact, if you click the “Download Files Below” link you will be taken to the end of the web page – with no sign of the actual binaries.  Simply scroll up a little bit and you’ll see the download links in the “Instructions” section.  Sheesh!

The 32–bit download is 28.4MB, while the 64–bit edition weighs in at 31.1MB. And, by the way – these are both Virtual Server Enterprise Edition.  This means you aren’t limited to just 4 processors as with the Standard Edition.  Regardless, you’ll need a beefy 64–bit box to hit the hard-coded limit of 64 simultaneous VMs.

While this is an exciting development for many of us in the Microsoft world, I’m sure the VMware forums are already chock-full of VMware Server fans extolling the virtues of their product over Virtual Server.  In some cases they might be correct.  For instance, if you want 64–bit guest machines you should look at VMware Server.  Also, if your guests need more than one virtual processor you should also consider VMware Server.  However, realize that VMware Server is still in beta – and that you are complicating your support options if you run into problems.  Unless you have a Premier Support agreement with Microsoft, a PSS engineer may require you to repro your VMware guest issue on physical hardware before providing support.  Check this VMware-authored PDF for more info on the topic of Microsoft support.

Aside from the fact that Virtual Server is now free, two other things caught my eye.

  • Linux Additions for Virtual Server (available for Connect beta participants)
  • The fact that Microsoft made this announcement at LinuxWorld

Not sure there will be a lot of interest in the Linux Additions.  My personal opinion is that most Linux Admins would balk at having their server virtualized atop a “Micro$oft” product.  However, there may be some niche applications running on Linux at “Microsoft-friendly” shops where this kind of thing makes sense.  Who knows… but if the global adoption of Virtual Server is only 5000 customers to-date, I’ll wager that about 5 of them will use these additions in production.  The biggest benefit I see is the ability to use Virtual Server as a test environment for Linux… not production.