Microsoft has reached the feature-complete release-candidate stage for its Hyper-V hypervisor-based virtualisation software for Windows Server 2008, meaning that it now resides in the middle ground between beta-stage development and final release.
The company has committed to hitting a final deadline of up to 180 days after the product was released to manufacturing on 4 February this year; "release candidate" is Microsoft's term for denoting an updated product near to final code. In an interview with ZDNet.co.uk, Microsoft left open the possibility of a second release candidate before final launch; the company acknowledged that it may still have some refinement to do.
"We're virtually there," said Neil Sanderson, UK product manager for system-centre virtualisation at Microsoft UK. "This version includes many of the features that we have been asked for throughout the beta process, such as usability across multiple locales and requested extensions to support Windows Server 2008. This feature-complete release means that customers can start to make solid plans for deployment, so we're confident that we can meet our August deadline for final delivery."
According to Microsoft, Hyper-V will help consolidate IT systems by increasing hardware utilisation and allow businesses to respond more rapidly to changing market conditions. The company's own estimates put current server virtualisation at less than 10 percent and reports suggest that this is due to virtual deployments being widely viewed as too complicated or expensive.
Despite accepting that there are further enhancements to be made before final release, Microsoft was unable to comment on which areas of Hyper-V's development it needs to address.
Sanderson said that, once final code is complete, Microsoft's partners, including Dell, Intel and IBM, plan to integrate support for Hyper-V into their virtualisation offerings, including pre-installation on servers, device support, solutions and services.
"The Hyper-V release candidate comes with support for more hardware configurations and offers improved performance and scalability. It also includes the option for installing Hyper-V Manager Microsoft Management Console on Windows Vista SP1 for remote management," said Microsoft's Sanderson.
Customers and partners can download the release candidate from 2pm GMT today.