Microsoft to launch Virtual Server 2005 next week

Quoting from CRN:

The two-year wait is over.

Microsoft will formally launch its long-awaited Virtual Server 2005 early next week, sources said.

The virtualization software, which Microsoft acquired from the former Connectix in February 2003, runs on Windows Server 2003 only but supports Windows NT and Windows 2000 workloads. It will compete with EMC’s VMware and SW-Soft’s Virtuozzo, which allow for server consolidation and simplified management of applications.

Microsoft released the beta version last February and Release Candidate 1 in June. Originally, the Redmond, Wash.-based company hoped to ship an enhanced server by the end of 2003 but delayed it to work out technical issues. The last targeted date for release was mid-2004.

“They’re doing a low-level launch, district by district,” said one source familiar with the company’s plans. “This is largely being driven [by] customers who want this software now. Microsoft would prefer to hang and do a bigger launch, but they’ve been so late they want to do it now. ”

Many customers, including Allstate Insurance and Winn-Dixie, have the final bits in house and have been using the release candidate in production for several months, solution providers said.

Microsoft plans to ship two versions of the virtualization software. The Virtual Server 2005 Standard Edition will support up to four processors, while the Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise Edition will support up to 32 physical processors, Microsoft said.

Pricing has not yet been released but sources expect the Standard Edition to come in at around $500 and the Enterprise Version to cost roughly $1,000. Sources also said Microsoft is going to offer incentives to partners, but it was not yet clear what those incentives entailed. Microsoft did not respond to calls as of press time. While detractors say most companies will use Microsoft’s version 1.0 software purely for testing, development and staging legacy applications, some “leading-edge customers” are using it for mission-critical apps such as billing and inventory applications, sources added.