Microsoft Unveils Beta Of Virtual Server 2004

Microsoft released a beta for its Virtual Server 2004 but delayed shipment of the final product until at least mid-year.

February 18, 2004

3 Min Read
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Microsoft formally rolled out the first major beta of its Virtual Server 2004 this week and has delayed shipment until mid-2004 at the earliest.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant released beta versions of the virtualization software to roughly 30 customers this week and will release the code to manufacturing sometime in mid-2004, said Eric Berg, a group product manager for Windows server.

When Microsoft acquired the virtualization software assets of Connectix in early 2003, it said it would ship a server product by the end of that year. In the fall, partners working with the code said Microsoft planned to make the beta available in November and ship the product in the first quarter of 2004. One Microsoft product life-cycle Web site last quarter identified late March as the expected shipping date for the product.

This week, one Microsoft solution provider said Microsoft is working out some problems before releasing code. "Virtual Server is delayed," said the East Coast partner. "I'm not sure how long, but I'm told they had performance issues."

Microsoft's Berg declined to acknowledge a delay in the product or the possibility that the shipment of Virtual Server 2004 to the channel might slip until the third quarter of this year. Shipment of product following release to manufacturing (RTM) typically lags several weeks."We're still on track to have product out in the middle of 2004," Berg said. The company in recent months has only specified a ship date during the first half of 2004.

While product delays are less irksome in an economic downturn, this product is highly anticipated by Microsoft and the channel because it is expected to help the software giant drive NT migrations to Windows Server 2003, one partner said.

"This is all about consolidating the 1999 servers bought to run NT 4.0," said one partner familiar with the progress of Virtual Server 2004's development. "The beta is certainly out. It's clearly not going to ship in March as there is no time for user feedback but, then again, [the ship date] has not slipped that much."

Since the first customer preview was made available last May, Microsoft has refined the code with new features and bolstered quality assurance, including a "thorough security review," according to a Microsoft presentation provided to CRN.

Microsoft also has added SCSI support and two-node clustering, improved control through an enhanced COM API and integration with the Active Directory in Windows Server 2000/2003 and with Microsoft Operations Manager, according to the presentation.Market leader VMware, acquired by EMC in December, claims it is not worried by Microsoft's still-pending entry into the server virtualization software market because of its multiplatform support and VirtualCenter advanced management platform.

"Microsoft is entering the market to solve its NT forward migration problem, but our approach to the market is our virtual infrastructure strategy," said Michael Mullany, vice president of marketing at VMware.

One Microsoft solution provider was skeptical about the mid-2004 RTM date but said he'd rather Microsoft delay it than ship it before it's ready.

"It seems like a fairly aggressive beta schedule. I hope they can live up to their promises. Microsoft hasn't exactly been known for hitting target dates," said Jeffrey Sherman, president of Warever Computing, Los Angeles. "Of course, I'd much rather a product--particularly a Microsoft one--be late and work properly out of the gate rather than hitting an arbitrary target data and not being fully fixed."

This article appears courtesy of CRN, the newspaper for builders of technology solutions. 0

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