Virtual Server 2005 Split Into 2 Editions

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, which hit the release candidate stage on Monday, will come in two editions when it ships.

Virtual Server allows a single system to run several operating systems at once without resource conflicts. It is a Microsoft product based on beta technology acquired from Connectix Corp. in 2003. Last year, Microsoft released Microsoft Virtual PC 2004, a Microsoft-branded version of a shipping Connectix product. Microsoft had also originally planned to get Virtual Server out the door before the end of 2003.

When the product ships, the editions will be Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Standard Edition and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise Edition. The Standard Edition will support up to four processors and the Enterprise Edition will support up to 32 processors. Other features will be the same across the two editions.

Microsoft's main competitor in the virtualization space is VMWare, which was itself bought by EMC Corp. However, Microsoft is trying to channel virtualization technology into a much smaller niche than VMWare. Microsoft positions its virtualization products as a way for customers to create standard images that can be tested in virtual environments and for running Windows NT-based applications on new hardware. VMWare tends to view virtualization technology as a strategic enabler for an on-demand computing paradigm.

While Microsoft did not clarify pricing plans with the release candidate availability, a senior Microsoft official vowed in March that the price would be low. "Virtual Server will be the lowest cost way of doing this in the industry," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president for Microsoft's Windows Server Division.

Microsoft paved the way for undercutting VMWare's prices last year with its first Microsoft-branded release of Connectix' Virtual PC. Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 came out at $129 compared with VMWare Workstation 4's packaged price of $329 and download price of $299 at the time. VMWare has since released version 4.5 and cut its own price to a $189 download or a $199 boxed version.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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