May 10, 2007 10:46 AM PDT

Microsoft cuts Windows virtualization features

REDMOND, Wash.-Microsoft said on Thursday that it is pulling features out of the initial version of its "Viridian" hypervisor to avoid having to delay the virtualization technology.

The company is changing three key features of the hypervisor technology to try to stick to its schedule of releasing the technology within 180 days of completing its Windows Server "Longhorn" operating system, due to be finalized before the end of the year. The features will be included in a future version of Viridian, formally called Windows Server Virtualization, the company said.

The first feature that is being taken out of the initial Viridian release is so-called live migration, which enables people to move a running virtual machine from one physical server to another. The initial release of Viridian also won't support on-the-fly, or "hot," adding of memory, storage, processors or network cards. And it will only support computers with a maximum of 16 processing cores--for example, eight dual-core chips or four quad-core chips.

The move limits Viridian's initial scope and gives more breathing room to competing projects--most notably Xen and VMware.

Those guys just can't get a product out the door to save their lives. Windows development is just broken.
--Gordon Haff, analyst, Illuminata

"Those guys just can't get a product out the door to save their lives. Not having live migrate a year from now--talk about 'behind the times.' Windows development is just broken," Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said. "For a (version) 1.0 virtualization offering to be missing critical features a year hence puts Microsoft in a truly bad market position, perhaps to the point where they should seriously consider partnering with VMware."

In a blog posting, the general manager of virtualization strategy at Microsoft, Mike Neil, said the company is making some "tough decisions" to meet its schedule.

"Shipping is a feature too," Neil said.

In April, Microsoft delayed the first beta version of Viridian from the first half of this year to the second half. The company said on Thursday that a public beta of Viridian will be introduced with the release to manufacturing of Longhorn Server.

"We had some really tough decisions to make," Neil said. "We adjusted the feature set of Windows Server virtualization so that we can deliver a compelling solution for core virtualization scenarios while holding true to desired timelines."

With no live migration support, Viridian will be useful for a common early use of virtualization, replacing several underutilized servers with a smaller number of more efficiently used ones. But it means that Viridian won't be immediately useful for a more sophisticated virtual-computing environment in which tasks are shuttled from computer to computer to adjust to changing work priorities or faulty hardware.

VMware, the leading x86 virtualization company, has supported live migration since 2003 with its VMotion software. And the EMC subsidiary's Virtual Infrastructure 3 software--available for more than a year--enables much of the higher-level incarnation of virtualization that treats multiple servers as a pool of computing power.

Xen supports live migration with versions of Linux that have been specifically adapted for the virtualization software. The next version of the Xen hypervisor, 3.1, due within days, will add live migration support for Windows and unmodified Linux, said XenSource Chief Technology Officer Simon Crosby.

Capping Viridian support at 16 is a less significant change because the vast majority of x86 servers don't exceed that limit. That reality is likely to prevail, even after the second half of this year, when 16-core servers will become more common by virtue of new Intel and Advanced Micro Devices quad-core chips for servers with four processor sockets.

Being able to add new resources to servers as they run through "hot-add" capability significantly improves a server's reliability. However, it's not common for most administrators today.

Live migration can help reduce the need for hot-add technology because customers could move virtual machines to a second system while the first is upgraded or repaired.

Xen today supports hot-add capability for memory, disks, network cards and processors.

See more CNET content tagged:
virtualization, hypervisor, migration, Xen, server virtualization

34 comments

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When will they announce cutting Viridian?
Common, I can't wait to hear them say "To meet the deadlines, we are cutting Viridian and will re-brand the Virtual Server as Viridian. Shipping is a feature too".

MS, stop being everything to everyone. When will you start competing with Nike? M$ Shoes!
Posted by virtman (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
M$ Shoes?
> When will you start competing with Nike? M$ Shoes!

Hehe! Could not resist. Apple as usual already has M$ beat:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/</a>

The closest thing Microsoft has athletically to Nike/Apple is
Astroturfing.
Posted by KonradK (65 comments )
Link Flag
When will people stop moaning?
Just because no other company has expertise, knowledge and power enough to be "everything to everyone" it doesn't mean they shouldn't try to. In order to keep competitive, they *have* to.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Sound familiar?
&gt; removing three key features of the hypervisor technology
&gt; to try to stick to its schedule

Where have we heard this before? Because of an unsustainable
desire to remain backwards compatible, the Microsoft stack-of-
cards will eventually crumble. Ironically virtualization should in
theory provide Microsoft a way out. What they need to do is
emulate Apple. Bight the bullet and start over from scratch and
use virtualization to provide backwards compatibility.
Posted by KonradK (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS does have a new os
MS has a new OS called singularity. Check it out. It may not become a product itself, but it is a fascinating project with promise for a new os down the road.

Let's face it. Windows isn't going anywhere. Like it or not, it is still a valid platform for most people and businesses. It runs what corps need. There is a ton of Windows talent around. Plus, Vista, while itself doesn't seem that much different than XP, is really a "new" foundation on which programs and successor OSes will be based for the next 8-10 years. We won't really see Vista's benefits in Vista itself, but I think things will take shape in 12-18 months from now. When SP1 ships, people will jump on board, there will be new apps, new developer tools, Vista-ONLY stuff here, and XP will begein to be phased out much like W2K has been the past few years.
Posted by frankwick (413 comments )
Link Flag
That explains it..........
If most Managers / Dept. Heads {at Microsoft} use a paragraph of words instead of a single sentence, delays should be expected.
Posted by m.o.t.u. (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
typical vaporware tactics
VMWare is running the market and so MS annonces that it's virtualization product will ship, for free, with the next version of server. VMWare has to cut prices and start giving products away for free, loses revenue, then MS quietly cuts the feature.

they have done this for years, just ask citrix who got hit with it in 1997 when they announced terminal services would be built into NT server 5. term server wasn't available free until 2000.
Posted by chris__anderson (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Won't work anymore...
the assumption of cornering a merket by releasing a free version "built-into" your server product is that admins will have your server OS by default.

Times have changed, admins will only ever buy Windows server if they need a specific network service and even then they will only buy as many as they need, relying on *nixes, both commercial and open source versions for many of their servers performing heavy grunt work.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Link Flag
Ballmer needs to go
He's done nothing positive at Microsoft. I believe there is a lot of tallent there, but Ballmer impedes it.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh give me a break
Ballmer has raised awareness of the needs of sweat-soaked
primates better than any Monkey-Boy in history!
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
What about security?
Is MSFT releasing any feature to provide out of box security for the VMs running on its hypervisor. Security in Virtual world is the single most important topic to think about now. Traditional methods of HIPS/IDS/IPS doesnt work in virtual world. You need real server security that can work at the hypervisor layer.
Posted by shivagarl (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
No
Security only applies to *other vendors* releasing competing
products.
Paraphrasing Mr Ballmer;
There are no security problems in any Microsoft product. Never! My
feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all"
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
"Shipping is a feature too"
Wow, there's a rationalization.

This seems to be theme for Microsoft lately. Cut key promised
features just to get something out the door. Vista is just a pale
shadow of what it was supposed to be. But, I guess, shipping is a
feature too . . .
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lol...best quote.
Shipping? A Feature? Wow! It is almost mind numbing how idiotic
Microsoft is looking these days. Say what you want to about M$,
but cmon! Are they serious? This isn't the 90's when M$ ruled the
world. I mean their VM server sucks anyway, but to relase the
new version, without the new features, just to make the ship
date, is just flat out crazy. Apple delayed too, but was at least
honest about it. "Hey it's not ready, so we are going to delay."
Not hey, its not ready, but we need those WallStreet estimates, so
we will give you this broken software anyway. Nobody can bash
M$ as good as they bash themselves. Vista, now this. At least
Office 2007 is cool, so maybe they can support their company
with those profits.....lol.
Posted by ZeroJCF (51 comments )
Link Flag
LOL
Typical MS BS. There are missing features from Vista that are 10 years in the making and no release date in sight.

I guess the only question to ask is: "Is anyone surprised that MS had to drop features just to get it out the door, and how are you, the eternal MS defender going to defend this?"

It would be news if MS did something right AND on time.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Best quote ever
""We had some really tough decisions to make," Neil said. "We adjusted the feature set of Windows Server virtualization so that we can deliver a compelling solution..."

What is compelling about a product that won't be out for a year and can't compete with VM solutions that exist today?
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read between the lines. Here is what he really said..
"We had some tough decisions to make, so we decided to shoot
our virtualization strategy in the head, eat paste, and invest in
VMware. This is the only way to be sure that we WILL NEVER HAVE
THE CHANCE grow in the VM solution business." It's like
watching a car crash in slow motion...over and over....and...
Posted by ZeroJCF (51 comments )
Link Flag
No, he should stay
He is contributing nicely to the destruction of MSes monopolies which is good for the overall industry.
Posted by MadKiwi (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Over promise, under deliver
It's amazing that anyone believes anything coming out of Redmond.

Microsoft: Bringing you today's technology - tomorrow
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow, how long can this business model go on???
Microsoft cut features as a feature for shipping.
Apple not only keeps features they promise, they add features in
their software as surprise features and still ship in a reasonable
amount of time.
Posted by lemuel777 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As long as they can push the monopoly
MS still counts on its monopoly power to satiate those users and
IT personnel who believe that products like Windows and Office
are "okay."

In his upcoming book 'The Dip', Seth Godin calls it "the
relentless rush to be mediocre."

I think it refers to those folks who have hunkered down and
learned little else than MS technology, defending the status quo
to either keep their jobs or make it easier on themselves by not
having to attempt to learn anything new.

MS counts on this mentality. It has no impetus to produce a truly
innovative OS, server, etc., or even one that competes against
other readily available products.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Link Flag
Why does MS need virtualization?
You guys should get off of Microsoft's case. I don't see why a video game company needs needs virtualization in the first place.

I do understand that Viridian will come with several cool new features that VMWare does not have.

Viridian will have a feature that lets you run fake X box games that ring up extraordinarily high scores on a side monitor. "By running VD-BS (Viridian X Box simulator), you can appear to be playing Halo III while managing your databases or running backups. Everyone will think you are 1337 and you will get all of the girls."

Don't forget that Viridian will come with Longhorn, which will also have lots of cool new features.

The box that Longhorn will come in will be much better this year. It will have lots of cool new security features. One of the holographic labels will have an animated picture of Bill Gates waving at the buyer (Yes, they are having to edit the picture because it looks like he is giving the one fingered salute, but that is just a feature anyway).

It will also come with Windows Conflict Manager, that will search for and delete any competing products elsewhere on the network, thus prevent conflicts.

I think that everyone will agree that Longhorn and Viridian will be some of the most interesting products ever produced by Microsoft.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Video game company?
I thought Microsoft was, first and foremost, a software company.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Video game company?
I thought Microsoft was, first and foremost, a software company.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
You need to learn...
...to make an argument without resorting to personal abuse. Just because someone does not agree with you does not make them an idiot. Your arguments will be far more persuasive if you can learn that lesson.
Posted by jgaskell (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That was for MSSlayer
Don't know why it ended up at the top level.
Posted by jgaskell (4 comments )
Link Flag
Apple fanboys, learn? LOL!
That goes against the very essence of being an Apple fanboy:

whatever God Steve Jobs says is right --&gt; whatever I say is right --&gt; whoever disagrees or uses Windows is an idiot --&gt; more than 90% of people who use computers is idiot.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Apple fanboys, learn? LOL!
That goes against the very essence of being an Apple fanboy:

whatever God Steve Jobs says is right --&gt; whatever I say is right --&gt; whoever disagrees or uses Windows is an idiot --&gt; more than 90% of people who use computers is idiot.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Nothing unusual here
It's the usual Microsoft bashing whatever they do: if they take too long to release something, they suck because they should cut features and release earlier; if they release earlier, they suck because they had to cut features in order to do that.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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