Microsoft officially launches Windows Server 2008

At an event in London on Wednesday, Microsoft launched Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, and announced that SQL Server 2008 will be available later this year

Microsoft has officially launched Windows Server 2008 and Windows Visual Studio 2008 and announced SQL Server 2008, which is due to become available in the third quarter of this year.

At an event in London on Wednesday, Microsoft revealed that Windows Server 2008 is going to be available in eight different versions with release dates staggered over the year.

The three main versions of Windows Server 2008 will be Standard, Enterprise and Datacentre. All three will have the Hyper-V virtualisation hypervisor and will cost £477 for Standard with five client access licences (CALs), £1,912 for Enterprise with 25 CALs and £1,434 for Datacentre, priced per processor. There will be various other versions available, depending, for example, on whether the customer wants the Hyper-V element.

Hyper-V is a key element of Microsoft's virtualisation strategy and is included in beta form in the release version of Windows Server 2008. Microsoft says that within 180 days, the production Hyper-V will be released and distributed online through the auto-update system.

As well as Hyper-V's OS-level virtualisation, Microsoft has labelled other services as virtualisation components. Terminal Services now provides "Presentation virtualisation" and thin-client access to server-based applications, while "Profile virtualisation" involves loading a working environment onto a client over the network. Application and desktop virtualisation are also included, with all types managed by Microsoft System Center.

Larry Orecklin, general manager for the server and tools division of Microsoft, told that this was wasn't over-complicating the definition of virtualisation. "The different profiles cover the different situations in which you will use virtualisation," he said. Virtualisation of storage was different from server virtualisation. "You will have different requirements and these different ways of looking at virtualisation are covered."

Although VMware is one of Microsoft's major competitors, Oreckin said, System Center would support VMware and XenSource, the open-source virtualisation company now owned by Citrix, among other third-party products.

At the launch on Wednesday, Microsoft also had a number of prominent UK users for the company's new products including the recruitment agency Reed, EasyJet and the University of Cambridge.

Dr Andrew Hopkirk, head of projects at the National Computing Centre, was also at the event and praised the problem-solving ability of virtualisation. He said it can help to deal with the challenge of "complexity, agility, security and manageability in enterprise computing".