Now Playing at Microsoft: Intel And AMD

Intel  is no longer the sole star of Microsoft
Virtual Server 2005 show.

Microsoft Corp.  today trotted out the second beta
of Windows Server Virtual Server 2005 service pack 1 (SP1), a version that
supports virtualization features on AMD and Intel

Beta one of the product supported Intel virtualization from the get-go; R2
SP1 debuts support for AMD, a clear indication that customers don’t want to
virtualize solely on Intel-based machines.

Microsoft is not a company to shy away from giving customers more platform
choices when it can’t hurt it’s bottom line.

The software giant today said making Virtual Server 2005 work with
virtualization technologies from both chipmakers’ processors will boost
interoperability for customers’ various systems and improve performance for
non-Windows operating systems.

Moreover, the move will yield “strengthened isolation to prevent corruption
of one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system,” Microsoft
said in a statement.

This is an important, albeit expected, change to Microsoft’s mix.

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Intel’s chips have been so often paired on PCs
and servers over the last decade that the industry began calling machines
with those products “Wintel” boxes.

However, Microsoft has been getting cozier with AMD, pledging
support for AMD’s Opteron processors as far back as 2003, a relationship
that has blossomed and deepened
in the last two years.

Virtualization advancements from AMD have no doubt spurred collaboration and
interoperability between the companies; earlier this year, AMD began offering
royalty-free virtualization licenses to hardware and software developers.

This month, AMD launched
Rev F, the latest version of its Opteron processor for servers and
workstations, with souped up virtualization perks.

With Intel and AMD support under its belt and a lower entry cost for Virtual
Server 2005 R2 SP1, Microsoft hopes to continue its assault on
virtualization market leader VMware.

R2 SP1 brings other new perks to the table, boasting better backup services
and manageability through offline manipulation.

Specifically, the refreshed software supports Volume Shadow Service for
backup and disaster recovery.

With VSS, customers will now be able to take snapshot backup images of
physical machines that will in turn take snapshots of all the virtual
machines on that physical host, rather than scheduling downtime for backing
up each virtual machine.

R2 SP1 also features offline virtual hard disk (VHD) mounting, which enables
customers to easily deploy scripts and perform virus scans across VHDs
without having to start each virtual machine.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 will be generally available in the first quarter
of 2007, with support for Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Vista operating

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