Microsoft has made available a Release Candidate 1 (RC1) version of Virtual Server 2005, getting a step closer to final release of the delayed product.
Virtual Server is a server-based application that allows users to run different operating systems on a single hardware server. The application itself runs only on Windows Server 2003, but it can host a range of x86-based operating systems, including Windows NT, Linux, Unix, and OS/2.
In line with Microsoft's other server products, Virtual Server 2005 will be released in two editions: Enterprise and Standard, the company said. Features across the two are the same; scalability is the only difference.
Standard Edition would support up to four processors and Enterprise Edition up to 32 processors, Microsoft said.
Microsoft pitches Virtual Machine as a way to help users migrate from older versions of Windows, specifically Windows NT 4.0, to the latest version of its server operating system, Windows Server 2003. With Virtual Server, users will be able to run NT 4.0 on Windows Server 2003 and continue using applications developed for that older operating system.
Another use was to help customers migrate legacy applications and assist in consolidating applications onto fewer servers, Microsoft has said. Virtual Server 2005 was originally planned for release at the end of 2003. Microsoft delayed the product until mid-2004.
The company now claims both editions of Virtual Server 2005 will be out sometime this year.
There was no current plan for a Release Candidate 2, unless feedback from RC1 showed there was a need for another pre-final version, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Microsoft acquired Virtual Server along with two desktop virtualisation products in February 2003 from Connectix. Since the Connectix technology acquisition, Microsoft put Virtual Server through a security review and has added new features and functionality, the company has said.
Virtual PC 2004 and Virtual PC for Mac were released last year.
The RC1 release of Virtual Server 2005 is the Standard Edition of the product. It is available only in English, can be used until January 1 and is available for free download from Microsoft's website.