Executive Summary:

Microsoft has jumped on the virtualization bandwagon in a big way. The upcoming release of Microsoft Xbox Server 2009 will provide new virtualization and interoperability features.


Editor's Note: We hope you enjoy our attempts at April Fool's humor in the following article!

When Microsoft bought a virtualization software company called Connectix back in 2002, virtualization was considered a marginally interesting technology for Windows. Within Microsoft, virtualization was thought to have limited use, only for areas such as test environments. Significantly, when Microsoft rereleased the Connectix products as Virtual Server and Virtual PC, the company ceased supporting one of Connectix’s most attractive features—the ability to virtualize Linux. Today, the company has decided that virtualization, together with interoperability, is the key to Windows’ future market dominance. Now, Microsoft sees the future of virtualization as a competitive edge. The radical swing is that Windows is being positioned as the platform for open-source solutions. You want to run Linux? Great! Run it on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V!

Watching Microsoft’s enthusiasm for virtualization evolve, I began investigating virtualization’s spread to various Microsoft products. In this April issue, I disclose little-known plans for the future of Microsoft virtualization.

Xbox Server 2009
Windows IT Pro readers have long been using the Xbox console as a Web server and as a Squid proxy server. (See “The website is down because someone removed the Xbox,” www.windowsitpro.com, InstantDoc ID 50428.)

Logically, Microsoft is now seriously evaluating Xbox for IT. As a platform company, Microsoft is integrating its entire product line to make IT dynamic. I’ve obtained exclusive substantiation that Microsoft will soon announce Xbox Server 2009, formerly code named DiskEater.

Xbox Server will be available in 27 versions, ranging from Essential Basic Limited Edition to Business Special Deluxe Ultimate Extended Edition. Xbox Server 2009 Essential Ultimate Extra Add-Ons will be downloadable from Xbox Live.

Sources inside Microsoft confirm that a stealth test lab is operating in Building 10. This skunkworks lab is exploring the use of rack-mounted and virtualized Xbox Server machines for corporate networks.

Manageability is a key focus. One Microsoft IT administrator was overheard saying, “Xbox Server’s flashing red ring of indicator lights is a great feature! It’s much easier to spot hardware problems in the server room. The burning red ring of fire grabs your attention much faster than the old blue screen of death.”

Remote Management
The most significant revelation is that Xbox Server offers surprising new virtualization and interoperability features. For example, to alleviate the frustration that IT staff experience when a server crashes, Microsoft will announce an Xbox Server virtualization layer, which corresponds to Server 2008 Hyper-V. Branded as Hyper-Wii, this virtualization solution allows interoperability with a competitor’s hardware to enable development of an innovative (and fun!) remote management handheld device. It will be branded as Hyper-Wii Remote.

“We’re super proud of Hyper-Wii Remote,” said Microsoft Product Manager Mario (who asked us not to use his last name). “Hyper-Wii Remote is the ultimate user interface for simplifying management tasks. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘point and click’ administration.”

Microsoft is field testing this new handheld controller for managing servers, and participants in the Community Technology Preview (CTP) program are enthusiastic. So if you see an IT guy in the glass room waving his arms around, jumping, and shouting, don’t assume he’s upset about a crashed server.

Inside Microsoft IT, an early adopter, who has been dogfooding Hyper-Wii Remote, notes, “I’ve lost 10 pounds and significantly improved both my golf and bowling skills since I started using the Hyper-Wii Remote management tool. And my servers have never been so well maintained.”

When It’s Ready!
Responding to rumors of a possible delay in the launch of Hyper-Wii, a testy Microsoft spokesperson said, “We haven’t even acknowledged the existence of DiskEater—I mean Xbox Server 2009! How can you claim it’s delayed? It’s NOT delayed! The word ‘delay’ has many connotations. Besides, we never announced a date for availability. I’ve seen irresponsible rumors in the press, claiming Hyper-Wii would be available within 180 days of Xbox Server 2009’s release, but Microsoft has not confirmed those rumors. Anyway, we really only care about quality. Hyper-Wii will ship when customers tell us it’s ready!”

While refusing to comment on future product directions, a Microsoft spokesperson told me the company is exploring a future desktop virtualization solution with a handheld interface. Could this be a reference to the rumored Windows Wiista release?

Competition

Not to be overshadowed by Microsoft’s efforts to dominate the virtualization space, competitors are hard at work on their own versions of Hyper-Wii. I’ve talked to many users who are fans of a more sophisticated virtualization technology already in advanced stages. This solution reportedly comes from a company called WiiMware.

Read more about this April report, go to InstantDoc ID 98542.