Many survey respondents wanted Microsoft to address their needs for better virtualization capabilities. For example, one reader commented, "Virtualization needs to get rid of the host OS and be a lot more performant. We're better off buying cheaper dedicated servers instead of expensive large ones to cut in pieces with VMs."

Jim agreed, "This is the direction that virtualization technology is moving. One role we've defined for Longhorn is the virtualization role. When you choose the virtualization role, only those capabilities, those services, that are necessary to support virtualization will be deployed and everything else is eliminated. So you have created a very lightweight, high-performant OS specifically for that virtualization role. We've talked about this new hypervisor model."

Microsoft describes the Windows hypervisor as a thin layer of software running directly on the hardware. The hypervisor works with a Longhorn server dedicated to the new virtualization role to let multiple OS instances run simultaneously on one physical server.

But Longhorn is still the future. For those who want more advanced virtualization capabilities today, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is in beta and scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2007. SP1 adds compatibility with AMD's and Intel's hardware virtualization capabilities and supports Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).

Of course, Virtual Server 2005 isn't your only option for virtualization. For desktop virtualization, VMware offers VM Workstation; for server virtualization, VMware has Virtual Server and ESX Server and Virtuozzo offers Virtuozzo for Windows. Altiris offers Software Virtualization Solution for application virtualization. And Intel's XEON EM64T processors and AMD's Opteron processors are available for hardware-enabled virtualization.