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'Viridian' Becomes Hyper-V

Microsoft finally gave its upcoming Windows Server virtualization technology an official name this week, and also announced its packaging plans for the technology.

The announcement came Monday at the company's TechEd IT Forum conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Formerly codenamed "Viridian," the virtualization technology will henceforth be dubbed Hyper-V, according to company statements. Although it's set to ship 180 days after Windows Server 2008, it will still be included by default in mainstream editions of the server once it's available.

Since Hyper-V will ultimately be packaged with the next version of Microsoft's server software, the company also announced the pricing and packaging particulars for Windows Server 2008.

This means there will be a total of eight different editions of Windows Server 2008. Three of them will include Hyper-V by default—the Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter editions.

With Standard edition, customers can run a single instance of Hyper-V per server license, while the Enterprise edition can run four. The Datacenter edition allows customers to run unlimited instances of Hyper-V.

Mirroring that will be editions of the same three packages that do not come with Hyper-V, Microsoft said. There will also be two other editions that do not include Hyper-V. Those editions will be named Windows Web Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems.

To emphasize that Hyper-V is a core component of Windows Server 2008, the company has chosen to label editions that do not include the technology as being "without Hyper-V" – as in "Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V"—rather than stating that the regular Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter editions have it as an addition.

This marketing preference could turn out to be confusing for customers.

"We now know what the final name is and we know how it's going to be packaged but I'm not sure the world needs eight [separate editions] of the server product," Michael Cherry, lead analyst for operating systems at researcher Directions on Microsoft, told

Bob Visse, a director in Microsoft's Server Division, told that while the trend is ultimately moving toward virtualization, a lot of customers have just begun to switch to that model—thus the move to offer versions without Hyper-V.

"There are a large number of servers out there that aren't running virtualization yet," Visse added.

Microsoft has been promising to deliver a hypervisor—a small, specialized operating system that sits on the server hardware and lets the server run more than one operating system above it—in Windows Server 2008 for some time. However, it has been repeatedly delayed.

Additionally, the first release of Hyper-V will not have some of the capabilities Microsoft originally planned to offer. For instance, in May, the company pushed the delivery date back to the second half of 2007, partly due to delays in shipping Windows Server 2008. At that time, Microsoft officials announced that the first release of Viridian would also drop some planned features.

For instance, the initial release of what is now known as Hyper-V won't provide live migration or the ability to hot-add resources. In addition, it will limit support to 16 cores, or four quad-core processors.

Then, in late August, the company quietly announced the ship date for Windows Server 2008"> had slipped again, this time to the first quarter of 2008, resulting in further delays for Hyper-V.

Officials say Windows Server 2008 is on track to meet its current schedule to ship during the first quarter of 2008. The Hyper-V technology is set to ship within 180 days of Windows Server 2008's release.

In October, the company announced that would place the programming interfaces for Hyper-V under its Open Specification Promise (OSP) for use by developers. Microsoft's OSP basically promises that developers can use protocols, APIs and other technologies that are placed under that aegis freely and without fear of lawsuits—as long as they don't sue Microsoft.

Analysts say Microsoft needed to make that move in order to try to catch up to competitors VMware and Citrix, two leaders in the virtualization software sector that already have established hypervisors in the marketplace.

As for pricing, that's a little confusing too.

Windows Server 2008 Standard (with Hyper-V) will cost $999 with five client access licenses (CAL), while the Enterprise edition (with Hyper-V) will cost $3,999 with 25 CALs. Meanwhile, the Datacenter edition (with Hyper-V) will cost $2,999 per processor.

The editions of those same products without Hyper-V will cost $28 less than the matching editions with Hyper-V.

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems, which will not include Hyper-V, will cost $2,999 per processor, while Windows Web Server 2008, which also will not include Hyper-V, will cost $469.

In addition, the company is also going to offer a standalone version of the virtualization technology, which it has named Hyper-V Server. It will cost $28 per license.

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