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'Windows Server 8' Previewed at WPC Event

Microsoft on Tuesday offered a sneak peek of "Windows Server 8," the code name for the company's next-generation server that's still under wraps.

The server sighting happened on Day 2 of the 2011 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles. However, it came as a quick blur during the event, almost like a "Bigfoot" snapshot from the Pacific Northwest. The new server was shown for the first time on Tuesday, but it happened outside the keynote address limelight. Instead, a demo of Windows Server 8 took place during a session entitled, "Realizing Your Opportunity in the Cloud," led by Robert Wahbe, Microsoft's corporate vice president for server and tools marketing.

During that talk, a Windows Server 8 demo was conducted by Jeff Woolsey, principal program manager lead for Windows Server virtualization, who showed the new server running the next version of Hyper-V. Woolsey explained during the demo that Windows Server 8 was running 16 virtual processers within a virtual machine, although he added that the server may run more virtual processors when it's released. The demo showed all 16 processors running at full capacity (see photo).

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Screenshot of Windows Server 8 demo (photo credit: Scott Bekker).

Microsoft's current Windows Server 2008 R2 product is listed as running a maximum of four virtual processors, according to a TechNet library description. Possibly, Microsoft's demo and the suggestion of greater virtual processor support in Windows Server 8 was meant to sideline VMware's announcement on Tuesday that its vSphere 5 platform will support virtual machines with "32 virtual CPUs."

Woolsey also talked about a feature to move Windows Server 8 virtual machines, which he called "Hyper-V replica."

"Hyper-v replica is asynchronous, application-consistent, virtual machine replication built into Windows Server 8," Woolsey said. "Now, that's quite a mouthful, so all you need to do is remember is this: With Windows Server 8, you can replicate a virtual machine from one location to another with Hyper-V and a network connection. That's all you need."

The demo of Hyper-V replica showed the replication of a "mission-critical" SQL database from a Microsoft private cloud to a disaster recovery site. Woolsey said that this Hyper-V replica feature will work with any server vendor, network vendor or storage vendor.

"With Windows Server 8, we're delivering massive scale," Woolsey concluded. "We're delivering enhanced, mission-critical reliability solutions in the box, with unlimited replication with Hyper-V replica. And I'm not kidding when I say we've barely scratched the surface."

Woolsey emphasized that the demo just showed one feature of Windows Server 8, and that Microsoft had added "hundreds of features to the core," which will be disclosed at the Microsoft Build conference in September.

Microsoft's heavy cloud emphasis at WPC even spilled over to its Windows Server 8 nomenclature. The new server is being billed in Microsoft's public messaging as "the next step in private cloud computing."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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