It was rather overshadowed by the Windows 7 RC, but last week Microsoft also made available the release candidate for Windows Server 2008 R2:
As many of you know, Windows Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate (RC) is made available today to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, with broader availability from Microsoft.com on May 5th. As our final broad test milestone before RTM, this really is the best chance for you to download Windows Server 2008 R2 and put it through its paces while we continue our march to RTM.
There’s more on the new R2 management features by following the link and you can also check the full pitch on Windows Server 2008 R2, but bear in mind that the R2 means it is an interim release between major Windows Server releases, so don’t expect earth shattering enhancements. The biggies to my mind are the improved management and the new release of Hyper-V virtualization.
Microsoft’s promised September virtualization fest kicked off today as they started a global series of “Get Virtual Now” marketing events, but the big news is that their Hyper-V virtualization server is now a free download and will be shipping within 30 days as will Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.
Admittedly, Hyper-V Server 2008 was only a $28 add-on to Windows Server 2008, but the puzzle is why it wasn’t free in the first place. As to why it is free at all, Microsoft is trying to launch their fledgling in the face of VMware’s current hold on the virtualization market and if the Hyper-V features are "good enough," free seals the deal. VMware is not oblivious however and has their own free entry offerings.
Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft Server and Tools CVP Bob Kelly, announced that the tardy SQL Server 2008 finally be available in August and added a hint about an upcoming "virtualization launch."
Kelly also said that on September 8, Microsoft plans to launch its "end-to-end virtualization stack" in an event for press and analysts.
"We’re taking virtualization deep into the infrastructure," Kelly said, noting that Microsoft plans to deliver virtualization capabilities to its server, desktop, application and presentation layer technologies. "Less than 10 percent of servers in the market today are acting as hosts for virtualization," he said. And Microsoft plans to have an impact on increasing that percentage. "We’re one-third the price of VMware," Kelly said.
It’s not clear exactly what Kelly is referring to since Microsoft’s top of the line Hyper-V is only $28 dollars with a purchase of Windows Server 2008, but I guess we’ll all find out in September.
The share price of VMware tanked yesterday when the virtualization software vendor and Microsoft competitor replaced its CEO, co-founder Diane Greene, with Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft executive:
VMware’s Board of Directors announced today that it has made a change in the leadership of the company with the departure of Diane Greene as President and CEO. VMware’s Board of Directors has appointed Paul Maritz as President and CEO of VMware effective immediately.
Paul Maritz retired from Microsoft in 2000, after 14 years there. During this period Paul managed the development and marketing of many of the company’s major products, including such major releases as Windows 95, Windows NT, Database, Tools and Applications.
In 2003, Paul founded Pi Corporation, a startup software company focused on building Cloud-based solutions for new ways of doing personal information management. Pi Corporation was acquired by EMC in February 2008, and Paul became President of the EMC Cloud Division.
EMC owns 87% of VMware and EMC CEO Joe Tucci is the chairman of the VMware board so it is more precise to say that EMC replaced Greene. No one is formally offering any explanations for Greene’s departure, but a clue may lie in the earnings miss hinted at in the announcement:
VMware expects to announce earnings for the quarter ended June 30, 2008 as scheduled on July 22, 2008 at 2pm PDT. On that call Paul will make observations about the second half of 2008. While VMware is not updating guidance for Q2, we expect revenues for the full year of 2008 will be modestly below the previous guidance of 50% growth over 2007.
Still, nearly 50% revenue growth in today’s economic environment would be something that most boards of directors would be ecstatic about, which leads observers to suspect it was merely an excuse for Tucci to exercise his longstanding animosity towards Greene or to halt her intense lobbying for EMC to spinoff VMware.
Whatever the reason, VMware fired their very successful coach just as Microsoft’s Hyper-V team took the field which is hardly a winning game plan.
Update: Another theory – VMware’s CEO switch targeted at Microsoft, analysts say. The presumption is that Paul Maritz can handle competition with free and "good enough" better than Greene. Maybe, but it’s going to be tough for anyone. One interesting factoid:
Nine out of 10 guest operating systems that run on VMware are Windows servers, notes Burton Group analyst Richard Jones.