Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 now available

Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a server application that enables users to run a range of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Windows XP Professional and Windows NT 4.0, plus a variety of legacy operating systems such as Windows 98. It will allow the operating systems to simultaneously run on a single physical server. Virtual Server is designed to run on industry-standard x86-based and x-64-based servers.
The idea behind it is that each operating system runs in its own virtual environment, allowing the “guest” operating system (the operating system running “on top” of the actual server operating system, or the “host”) to “see” hardware components such as network adapters, CPUs, memory, hard disks and so on, as they were configured by the Virtual Server administrator, and not the actual hardware available on the host server.
There are three primary deployment scenarios for Virtual Server:

  • Software development and test automation – The quick creation of new configurations for testing, training, and demonstrations improves developer productivity and test coverage.
  • Application migration – Migrating applications running on obsolete hardware and operating systems onto virtual machines running Windows Server 2003 operating systems on more resilient hardware enables improved application compatibility, manageability, and resource utilization.
  • Departmental and branch office server consolidation – Consolidating servers running line-of-business applications increases application compatibility and manageability, and it also increases resource utilization. Virtual Server allows applications to coexist on the same hardware, thus increasing hardware utilization and manageability while reducing capital costs.

Like Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 is free to use and can be freely obtained by downloading it from Microsoft’s website.
Virtual Server 2005 has been around for several years, and is now in R2 Service Pack 1 level. The final release of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 is now available for download. Unlike “regular” service packs, the Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 is not a separate collection of hotfixes bundled into one large service pack, but instead it is a totally separate software, and you can (and should) install it instead of the previous version of the software.
Besides some bug fixes, the key changes in this service pack are:
Hardware-assisted virtualization Supports both Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) and AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) hardware-assisted virtualization.
VHD Mount Command-line Tool and APIs Provides the ability to mount a virtual hard disk file (.vhd file) as a virtual disk device on another operating system. This is a really neat addition and it allows you to mount any VHD file and access it even if the parent VM is not running.
Support for Volume Shadow Copy Service Allows back-up of Virtual Server and its running virtual machines without needing to install backup agents inside the guest operating system of the virtual machines. You can now create snapshots of virtual machines and use them for later retrieval.
Larger default size for dynamically expanding virtual hard disks The default size for dynamically expanding virtual hard disks has been changed from 16 GB to 127 GB, making the VHD file format even more useful for enterprise production, test, and disaster-recovery workloads.
Support for greater than 64 virtual machines on x64-based hosts Virtual Server can run more than 64 virtual machines on x64-based hosts. The 64 virtual machine limit remains when running on 32-bit hosts.
Host clustering step-by-step guide Host clustering allows you to extend the high-availability benefits of clustering to non-cluster-aware applications and workloads.
Virtual SCSI fix for Linux guests This fix resolves an issue some customers encountered when trying to install certain Linux distributions inside a virtual machine on the emulated SCSI bus.
VMRC ActiveX control and Internet Explorer Security Zones The Virtual Machine Remote Control (VMRC) ActiveX control now uses the security zone information in Internet Explorer to determine whether to prompt you for your credentials when you load the control.
Service Publication using Active Directory Service Connection Points Virtual Server service now publishes its binding information in Active Directory as a Service Connection Point (SCP) object.
Download Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1
Tip: One of the coolest applications I found in relation to Virtual Server was the VMRC Plus tool. Read more about it on my “Manage Virtual Server Machines with VMRC Plus” article

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