"This milestone is important to the customers and partners in the early adopter programs, and those of you trialing Hyper-V on your own, because it's feature complete, better performing than the beta, and you'll have a better experience using it," Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager for virtualization strategy, wrote in a blog post.
A beta version of Hyper-V is included in the early copies of Windows Server 2008, but the final version will become part of Microsoft's server operating systems when Hyper-V is released in August. Microsoft had earlier said only that Hyper-V would be released within 180 days of Windows Server 2008's release.
Microsoft hopes Hyper-V and its other virtualization products will position it to compete with VMware, Citrix's XenServer, Virtual Iron, and others in a rapidly growing market. VMware is today's market leader, but Microsoft is banking on price and the fact that only a small percentage of the total number of servers has yet been virtualized as two reasons Microsoft will be able to compete.
The new test version of Hyper-V adds a number of features and tweaks, including improved performance, easier networked installation, bug fixes, and German- and Japanese-language support. It will also be able to run Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows Vista SP1, and Windows XP SP3 as guest operating systems.
As Microsoft approaches the release of Hyper-V, it's been able to begin determining the technology's most-common-use cases. Neil writes that the most common server roles employed by Hyper-V have been the Internet Information Services Web server, application server, and Terminal Services.