Microsoft is updating the server version of its Windows operating system to give the OS more virtualization capabilities.
The company has posted a release candidate, a post-beta-but-not-yet-production-ready version of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2. The service pack can also be applied to Windows 7 as well. This service pack is a compilation of previously released updates, as well as, in the case of Windows Server, a number of new features.
The new Windows Server Service Pack will feature a number of new technologies to help organisations virtualise both their servers and desktop OSes. Virtualisation allows administrators to run multiple virtual servers on a single physical server, as well as stream a desktop operating system to a user machine instead of maintaining it on the local machine.
For the client side, the service pack offers RemoteFX, Microsoft's next-generation remote desktop protocol. Based on Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, RemoteFX can be used to serve graphics-intensive applications and USB support to thin clients or desktop computers.
On the server side, SP1 includes Dynamic Memory, which should allow servers to more efficiently manage how memory is allotted out to the virtual machines they run.
"With Dynamic Memory, IT administrators are able to pool available memory on a physical host and then dynamically dole that memory out to virtual machines running on the host, based on current workload needs," explained the Microsoft Web page where the service pack can be downloaded.
In addition to the virtualisation aids, the release candidate also includes a number of other goodies for Windows Server, according to a white paper found on the Microsoft site.
To enhance remote management, a new version of PowerShell, version 2.0, is provided. This software, among other things, will allow administrators to run multiple scripts simultaneously on a single machine, or across multiple machines. Active Directory domains now have their own Recycle Bins, which an administrator can use to restore an accidentally deleted object. The software also includes power management features that can reduce power consumption of hard drives and solid state disks.
The final, full production release of SP 1 will be released within the first quarter of 2011, Microsoft promised.