The latest version of Microsoft's Hyper-V standalone hypervisor, which includes new functionality for the live migration of servers, is now available for download.
Microsoft announced the free download on Friday in a blog posting from Microsoft's Windows Virtualization team. The release came on the eve of VMWorld 2009 in San Francisco, which is organised by virtualisation software leader VMware.
Apart from its live migration capabilities, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 features expanded processor and memory support for companies looking to consolidate their servers, Microsoft said. It now supports up to 8 physical processors, rather than 4, and up to 64 logical processors, up from 16. The software now also provides support for up to 1TB of physical memory.
In addition, it provides support for running up to 384 virtual machines with up to 512 virtual processors.
"Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is a stand-alone product that provides a reliable and optimized virtualisation [product] enabling organizations to improve server utilisation and reduce costs," the company said in a statement.
Microsoft's new software goes up against market leader VMware's own free hypervisor, ESXi, as well as against Citrix's XenServer and other products.
Speaking late last year, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer claimed that up until his company entered the market, virtualisation software had been expensive and difficult to manage. "If you want virtualisation on 80 percent of the servers, instead of 5 percent of the servers [at present], then you better not charge three times the price of the server for virtualisation," he said.
Microsoft's virtualisation team complained in a recent team blog that the company would not be able to demonstrate another new piece of virtualisation software, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, at the VMworld event. The post lead to discussion over whether Microsoft was being shut out of the VMware event, but Microsoft's virtualisation team later played it down, noting that the company is an exhibitor, rather than a sponsor, of the event.