Windows Server 2008 Versions Announced, with Few Changes

The breakdown for the various editions of Windows Server 2008 was revealed this morning by Microsoft, and the big news there is the almost total lack of change: Retail server software editions for the next Windows Server will fall right in line with the current Windows Server 2003 R2 editions, including the number of client access licenses (CALs) provided in the basic package.

The Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions will continue to retail for $999, $3,999, and $2,999 respectively, just as their 2003 R2 counterparts do today. Licensing terms will also apparently remain identical, with 5 CALs minimum for the Standard edition and 25 CALs for Enterprise. The Datacenter edition will apparently retain its hybrid licensing model, which is divided into a "server license" (per-processor) and "client license" component, since that edition was designed for installation on multi-processor clusters.

Windows Web Server Edition will continue to be a low-priced alternative, and is expected to now include a Server Core option that enables it to be installed without the overhead of a graphical environment. It will continue to be offered through an "Open NL" license arrangement (without user seats and without a box), though its price actually has risen a bit: by $70, to $469.

The one big change comes with respect to Microsoft's plan for its virtualization component, formerly code-named "Viridian." In an apparent concession to regulators who may be making sure Microsoft plays fair with respect to competitors VMware and Citrix Xen in the virtualization space, the company will be offering WS2K8 licenses without the virtualization component - now called Hyper-V - built-in.

Virtualization, of course, does not mandate a per-user license. But server administrators may have plans to use a different brand. So Microsoft will now give them the option of subtracting $28 from their retail sticker price for WS2K8 versions without Hyper-V, while at the same time the option of purchasing it again later for $28.

Today's announcements come during the first day of Microsoft's TechEd conference in Barcelona, which is typically one of the largest shows it produces in Europe, and whose current schedule includes a truckload of demonstrations of virtualization. The company had made similar plans to demonstrate Viridian last spring in the US at WinHEC in Los Angeles, but scratched those demos just hours before the company found itself announcing many of the features those demos would include were canceled.

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3:00 pm EST November 12, 2007 - A Microsoft spokesperson notified BetaNews this afternoon that, despite the company's earlier statements that Hyper-V would be valued at $28 retail, it actually will not be available for that price. In fact, the spokesperson said, "Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V and without Hyper-V are separate products with no upgrade path from the without Hyper-V to the full version of Windows Server 2008."

The spokesperson went on to say that a separate, virtualization-only version of Windows Server 2008 will be made available, called Microsoft Hyper-V Server. But that version will be greatly scaled down, capable only of acting in the virtualization role and no others (e-mail, Web server, file or print server, etc.). The omission even of the word "Windows" suggests that its sole function in life will be to be a hypervisor.

Hyper-V Server (as opposed to just "Hyper-V") will not be available retail, however, so presumably it will only be available to volume license and enterprise clients.

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