Hyper-V beta embedded inside Windows Server 2008 RTM

A few days ago, on the 4th of February 2008, Microsoft has finalized the Windows Server 2008 code, declaring it Ready to Manufacture (RTM) – Read more about it on my “Windows Server 2008 is RTM” article.


Unlike in any previous product in Microsoft’s history, for this release Microsoft took an unusual step by including a beta version of its upcoming hypervisor Hyper-V (also known as Windows Server Virtualization – or WSV) inside this RTM image of Windows Server 2008.

Although it is only available for x64 platforms, customers that don’t want the beta hypervisor inside their operating system can download a different version of Windows Server 2008, called “Windows 2008 without Hyper-V”. Here the complete list of available SKUs:

  • x64 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter Editions – Hyper-V included (server role and management console)
  • x86 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter Editions – Hyper-V partially included (management console only)
  • x64 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter Editions – Hyper-V not included
  • x86 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter Editions – Hyper-V not included
  • x86/x64 Web Edition – Hyper-V not included

For more information on these versions, visit:Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Edition Summaries Windows Server 2008 Without Hyper-V EditionsThe Hyper-V build included inside the RTM is the same released in December and was included in Windows 2008 Release Candidate 1 (RC1). This beta version of Hyper-V has several critical features customers were looking for:

  • Quick Migration and support for host-level HA (up to 16 nodes)
  • Out-of-the-box integration with Windows Server 2008 Server Manager (no more separate installation like in RC0)
  • Support for Windows Server Core edition (allowing a smaller hypervisor footprint)
  • Support for Volume Shadow Service (VSS) (which implies capability to perform VMs live backup at host level)
  • Support for 64GB virtual RAM per VM
  • Support for multiple virtual NICs per VM
  • Support for 4 virtual SCSI controller per VM
  • Replacement of the S3 emulated video card with a generic VESA
  • Integration of VHD manipulation tools

Note that this beta build still does not support booting from SCSI disks. You can read more about this issue in my “Microsoft Hyper-V will not boot virtual SCSI devices” article.

In this beta build, Microsoft is providing support for Windows Server 2003 and 2008 guest OS, as well as Novell Linux guests. Other guest operating systems should be able to run on it, but are not supported by Microsoft.

With the final version of Hyper-V expected 180 days from now accordingly to the current Microsoft roadmap, it has the potential to shift the VMware-dominated x86 virtualization landscape. Microsoft is planning a massive launch event for Windows Server 2008 starting in Los Angeles on Feb. 27. The launch will also include launches for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008.