Announcing Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta

This morning at Microsoft Management Summit 2005, Steve Ballmer  announced the availability of Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta. To view an on-demand Web cast of Steve's talk (including Jeff Woolsey's demonstration of Virtual Server 2005 SP1), go to

SP1 contains the latest software updates for Virtual Server 2005. SP1 includes the following new features (detailed later in this post):

• Support for additional host operating systems, including 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP
• Virtual Disk Precompactor
• Performance enhancements
• Built-in support for network installations
• Reserved disk space for saved state files
• Virtual floppy disk for pre-loading virtual SCSI drivers
• Support for hyperthreading

In addition to these features, Steve announced that support will be expanded for third-party operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, and other x86 operating systems to better meet the needs of customers with heterogeneous environments. Steve also announced that we are licensing royalty-free our VHD file format to promote a consistent and widely-adopted virtual machine file format for Windows to dramatically improve security, reliability and cost efficiency for customers.

To sign up for the Beta program

  1. Go to Note: You need a Passport account to sign in.  If you don’t have one, BetaPlace will help you create one.
  2. Once logged into Beta Place with a Passport account, provide vssp1BetaTester as the guest account. This will take you to the nomination page for the SP1 beta. Note: The Guest ID is both case and space sensitive and must be entered exactly as shown.  The most common reasons for a “Guest ID is locked out” or “invalid Guest ID” error message is because you either incorrectly entered the Guest ID or you entered a space before or after entering the Guest ID in the Guest ID field.  
  3. Follow the directions on this page to nominate yourself. In about 24 hours you'll receive an e-mail notice that you've been accepted into the program. You can then log in to Beta Place and download the SP1 beta, read the documentation, etc.

What's new in SP1

Support for additional host operating systems

In addition to the host operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following host operating systems:

• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 1
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition Service Pack 1
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition
• Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
• Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

Support for additional guest operating systems

In addition to the guest operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following guest operating systems:

• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 1
• Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2

Virtual Disk Precompactor

SP1 includes Virtual Disk Precompactor, a utility designed to "zero out"—that is, overwrite with zeros—any available blank space on a virtual hard disk (VHD). We recommend that you use Virtual Disk Precompactor before you compact a dynamically expanding VHD in order to create a smaller compacted VHD.

Performance enhancements

Changes have been made to the way that Virtual Server allocates physical memory to guest operating systems. In some scenarios, this could result in significant performance improvements.

Built-in support for network installations

PXE boot support has been added to the virtual machine network adapter. This means that when the appropriate network infrastructure is in place, you can perform a network installation of a guest operating system without needing a PXE boot floppy disk.

Reserved disk space for saved state files

With SP1, Virtual Server now reserves sufficient space on the physical disk to save the state of each running virtual machine. It does this when the virtual machine starts up by creating an empty saved state (.vsv) file equal to amount of memory allocated to the virtual machine plus a 20 MB buffer.

Virtual floppy disk for pre-loading emulated SCSI drivers

SP1 includes a virtual floppy disk, SCSI Shunt Driver.vfd, that you can use to load the emulated SCSI drivers during installation of a Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, or Windows XP Professional guest operating system. This will speed the installation when the virtual hard disk is attached to a virtual SCSI adapter.

Support for hyperthreading

With Virtual Server 2005, we recommended that you disable hyperthreading on the host operating system to improve the performance of your virtual machines. With SP1, this is no longer necessary. Hyperthreading does not affect virtual machine performance.

Comments (40)

  1. Anonymous says:

    E’ disponibile per il download, come parte del programma "Connect", la Beta 1 della Service Pack 1 di

  2. Anonymous says:

    E’ disponibile per il download, come parte del programma "Connect", la Beta 1 della Service Pack 1 di…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Virtual Server 2005 SP1β(x64ホストOS、hyperthreading、Linux サポートへ)

  4. Anonymous says:

    If you want to use Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit (VSMT) to migrate a computer running Windows…

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you are using the Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta (details here:…

  6. Richard says:

    Wow. Thanks for the excellent details Megan!

  7. Adam White says:

    The virtual floppy is a great addition!

    Now we just need some windows performance counters to track Virtual Server and Virtual Machine data. 🙂

  8. Anonymous says:

    any plans for future version to support multiple monitors?? developing on one screen feels like I’m back in the stone ages

  9. DortoH says:

    Support for HyperThreading? "Hyperthreading does not affect virtual machine performance."

    Do virtual machines running on a HT enabled CPU run HT capable "virtual CPUs"? i.e. Do I get the benefits of HT in the virtual enviroment? What about the forthcoming Dual-Core CPU’s or even standard SMP?

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