Free version of Hyper-V now available

New certification, training options too

Following a similar move by VMware in August, Microsoft Wednesday released a free, low-footprint version of its Hyper-V virtualization software as it continues to chase the virtualization leader.

Hyper-V Server 2008, which includes only the Windows Hypervisor, Windows Server driver model and virtualization components, is now available online.

Microsoft also on Wednesday unveiled new ways for IT professionals to get training and certification on virtualization for desktop, server and management environments. More details about the programs are available on Microsoft's Web site and the Microsoft Learning Community Blog.

Microsoft said on Sept. 8 that it would give away its Hyper-V hypervisor, about a month after VMware released a free version of ESXi, its own hypervisor technology. VMware is feeling pressure from Microsoft and other vendors that are bundling virtualization with server operating systems.

Microsoft's Hyper-V also is available as part of different editions of Windows Server 2008, the latest version of Microsoft's server software. Microsoft released Hyper-V in June, following the release of Windows Server 2008 in late February. Originally, Hyper-V was meant to be a part of that Windows Server release, but it was delayed.

Virtualization is becoming a key way companies are driving costs out of the data center, by running operating systems in virtual machines rather than physically on servers.

Microsoft aims to catch up to VMware in providing this technology for hardware systems not only running on Windows, but also on Linux and other operating systems. It also is tying the technology to its systems management family of software, System Center, and promoting management as a differentiator.

Like VMware, Microsoft is also expanding beyond server hardware into application and desktop virtualization, which are still in early phases of adoption by companies.

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