Microsoft provides more details about Windows Server 8

During its annual Build conference, Microsoft shared some information about the upcoming versions of its flagship product Windows. As already reported the client version of Windows, dubbed Windows 8 will contain the Hyper-V hypervisor technology, besides other new functionality.

Microsoft also showed a glimpse of the new features for its upcoming server OS, dubbed Windows Server 8. Windows Server 8 will contain the next version of Hyper-V, version 3.0. and will provide the following new features from a virtualization and VDI point of view:

  • Support for up to 160 logical processors on Hyper-V hosts
  • Support for up to 2TB RAM
  • Support for 32 vCPUs with up to 512 GB RAM per VM
  • Support for NUMA in the guest, so that the VM has processor and memory affinity with the host
  • Support for multiple concurrent Live Migrations
  • Support for Storage Live Migration,without a requirement for a shared storage backend.
  • New virtual disk format, called VHDX breaking the 2TB limit for the currently used VHD format, with a maximum of 16 TB. VHDX also provides better performance, support for large block sizes and is more resilient to corruption.
  • Introduction of Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX), which enables Hyper-V to offload storage features to the backend storage subsystem, comparable with the vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) functionality provided by VMware.
  • Virtual Fibre Channel Support, where each VM can have up to 4 virtual Fibre Channel host adapters, and direct access to SAN LUNs using Multi-Path I/O (MPIO)
  • VM boot support from fiber channel and iSCSI SANs
  • Updated virtual switch, providing multi-tenancy capabilities providing network isolation and network virtualization. Comparable to the VXLAN functionality introduced by VMware/Cisco and others. The virtual switch is also extensible providing capture, filter and forwarding extensions, using an API provided by Microsoft.
  • SR-IOW for privileged access to PCI devices
  • CPU metering
  • Resource pools
  • Support for Data de-duplication, providing compression of data stored on a Volume, with no significant performance implications. This also will reduce backup windows dramatically.
  • Offloaded Data Transfer, providing direct data transfer between servers.
  • Support for NIC Teaming, load balancing and failover in the OS, which until now was only supported by 3rd party vendors like Broadcom and Intel
  • Build in support for JBODs, and Thin Provision on JBODs.
  • Support for Bitlocker on Clustered disks.
  • Cluster Shared Volume 2.0 with support for built-in replication and hardware snapshotting.
  • IP address management UI (IPAM)
  • Support for SMB storage using Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) networks.
  • Hyper-V replica providing asynchronous/consistent replication functionality
  • Remote Desktop Session Host now fully supports RemoteFX and is enabled out of the box
  • Template feature for Virtual Desktops from a gold master image on disk and instantiated in memory as a single VM. Individual sessions can be customized using roaming profiles, customized desktops and apps and personal storage using system policy.
  • Windows Server 8 provides the ability to turn on and off the GUI, basically providing Server Core, with a GUI on demand when needed.
  • Active Directory will be virtualization aware, providing snapshot support for VMs running Domain Controllers, and support for DC cloning.

It’s clear that Microsoft is working hard on competing with VMware vSphere on features provided by the virtualization platform. Windows Server 8 is available as a developer preview now on MSDN.

Thanks to our sources for providing the news:

Windows Server 8: Hyper-V 3.0 Evens the Odds with vSphere, by Michael Otey from Windows IT Pro

Windows Server 8: The Ultimate Cloud OS?, by Jason Perlow of ZDNet

Windows Server 8: An Introduction, by Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President, Server and Cloud Microsoft.

Windows Server 8 will bring us this!, by Peterer Noorderijk from