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Windows Server 2008 test release due next week

The first candidate for the final version of Microsoft's next server operating system is imminent, including a test version of the 'Viridian' virtualization software.

SAN FRANCISCO--Microsoft next week plans to issue its first Windows Server 2008 release candidate, a near-final version of its operating system, a senior executive at the software company said Thursday.

"We expect the release candidate next week," said Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualization, in an appearance during a speech at the Intel Developer Forum here.

The release candidate will include a test version of software code-named Viridian and formally called Windows Server virtualization. This "hypervisor" allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously, a useful technology in improving server efficiency and eventually leading toward more flexible data center operations.

Neil showed a server running virtual machines on Viridian, one the bare-bones "reduced-footprint" version of Windows Server 2008 and another Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server. The software can take advantage of the horsepower of a four-processor Xeon system, Neil said.

Microsoft hasn't had a smooth time delivering either software to the market. In May, Microsoft stripped out several significant Viridian components from the first version of the technology, and in August, it delayed Windows Server 2008's release to manufacturers from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008.

Viridian is scheduled to ship in final form within 180 days of the final version of Windows Server 2008.