The server virtualization technology is on track for delivery in August 2008, the company said. The list of tested and qualified guest operating systems include Windows Server 2003 SP2, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3.
The release candidate also supports 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise and DataCenter. The Hyper-V download is available on Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 virtualization page.
Microsoft executives have said that even though the company entered the virtualization market relatively late, most IT shops are only starting to use virtualization software, and that there is plenty of opportunity to make hay.
"If Microsoft can release a product that gets the job done, it's another game-changing event for the industry," said David Payne, chief technology officer at Xcedex LLC, an integrator in Plymouth, Minn. "Time will tell if they did it the right way, but they are definitely going after the [virtualization market]."
Payne said that the response of virtualization market leader, VMware Inc., has been to get customers to sign three-year licensing contracts. "It makes them competition-proof against Microsoft and Citrix [Systems Inc.]," he said.
Earlier this month, Microsoft said it will acquire Kidaro, which makes software to help manage virtual desktops in a similar manner to how System Center Virtual Machine Manager will manage servers. The deal is expected to close in 30 days.