Windows Tip Sheet

Just as Good as the Real Thing

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta is out to prove virtual servers are for real.

Although I have an article coming up in Redmond magazine covering Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 Beta (now, that’s a long product name!), I couldn’t wait to tell you about this awesome piece of software. But first, a trivia question: On average, how many support calls per day does Microsoft get for Virtual Server 2005?

Two. Yeah, no kidding. It won’t surprise you, then, that SP1 doesn’t contain much in the way of bug fixes, which is practically a revolution for the folks in Seattle. So, if you’re not getting bug fixes, what are you getting?

How about support for Linux and Unix guest operating systems, in sudden and stark contrast to previous policy? Or, support for running VS2005 on x64-powered hosts running Win2003 x64 Edition? Okay, dig this: I have an HP evaluation box with four 2.3GHz AMD x64 processors and 32GB (not a typo—thirty-two gigabytes) of RAM. I have three virtual machines, each of which has a 6GB virtual hard disk. Do the math: That’s 18GB in hard disk. It all fits in RAM. You want to talk about a virtual machine that flies, baby, this is it. I don’t even think the server knows it has hard drives, sometimes.

Anyway, if you’re using VS2005, you can sign up for the beta of SP1 (link below) and help Microsoft find any bugs before they ship this product. They’re also supporting it on WinXP for non-production, evaluation purposes, so you don’t need a screamin’ 64-bit computer to check it out (you’ll find performance enhancements even on 32-bit boxes).

My tip? If you’ve been avoiding Virtual Server because you think it’s just can’t possibly be as good as real, physical servers, think again. The product is real, and it works. Whether you’re using it to provide software developers with an easily fixed test environment or using it to consolidate old servers into one shiny new box, Virtual Server works. Check it out.

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About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at

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