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New Hyper-V Release Candidate Out

Microsoft today published a new release candidate (RC2) of its first enterprise-class hypervisor, Hyper-V. The release marks the next step of what has been a quick march to commercial availability for a critical product in Microsoft's emerging virtualization lineup.

Hyper-V RC1 includes very minor upgrades, including support for an old operating system: Windows Server 2000, SP4. It also includes enhancements for use with Linux Virtual Machines (VMs), and a smoother install process for some components that come with Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V, which can only run in 64-bit environments, is bundled with Windows 2008.

Hyper-V, formerly codenamed Viridian, has been on a fast track to release since late last year, when the initial public beta came out last Dec. 13. The first RC, named RC0, came out two months ago, on March 19.

Hyper-V is Microsoft's first bare-metal hypervisor. It sits on top of the physical hardware of a server, and creates the VMs. Microsoft's previous server virtualization product, Virtual Server 2005, was hosted inside an OS, making it much slower and less scalable than bare-metal implementations.

The final version of Hyper-V is slated to be released no later than August. It competes in the same space as VMware's ESX and XenServer from Citrix. Other companies offering similar hypervisors include Parallels, Virtual Iron, Novell, Sun, HP, Red Hat and Oracle among others.

Virtualization separates software from the underlying hardware. The most typical current use is to run multiple copies of an OS on a single server, or different OSes, like Windows and Linux, on one piece of hardware. Other types of virtualization include desktop, PC, storage and application virtualization. More information about the distinctions can be found here.

As for Hyper-V's reliability and performance, an entry on Microsoft's Windows Virtualization Team Blog mentioned that Hyper-V is in live production use on several important Microsoft sites, including MSDN and TechNet.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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