In testing a new software release, reached the point where testing against Windows 2008 Server is now a reasonable requirement. Until now, I’d not had any reason to try out Win2008 Server. Since the (upcoming) 2008 R2 is going to be 64-bit only, created a 64-bit VM (under Sun’s VirtualBox).

Note that the default VM memory size suggested by VirtualBox is 512MB (where 256MB is recommended for 2003 Server) - and for good reason! At least during the (usual) install and patch phase, it looks like 512MB is not enough the keep the VM away from swapping. Have to note - while the eye-candy is better installing 2008 Server, a Ubuntu server is a lot less trouble. As a sysadmin installing your third, tenth, or hundredth server, the eye-candy loses all appeal.

This leads to an interesting question. If Windows 2008 Server is run directly on the hardware, current server hardware is likely a quad processor with at least 4GB. On hardware the 2008 Server needs are a complete non-issue. On the other hand, if 2008 Server is run on a VM (and at this point I would expect most Windows Server instances to be VMs), then a 512MB baseline requirement for the VM may be excessive.

This has got to be a pretty problem for Microsoft.

Naturally Microsoft would like to sell the OS installed on the hardware. Lots of money to be got there. At the same time, smart customers are more likely to want something else (less compulsive expense) as the base OS, and push Windows Server instances into VMs. This creates a conflict. If Windows 2008 Server is too fat to run in a VM, that puts a bit more pressure on Windows business customers to either stay with Windows 2003 Server (or earlier), or to move off Windows servers entirely.

So … Microsoft could squeeze more money out of business customers, at the risk of losing those same customers … and that loss could prove permanent. Tricky. I would hate to be the guy at Microsoft making that call.

No … that is not right. I’d not have any trouble making that call. The customer is always right. I would be looking to keep the customers happy, and making the latest server OS a non-issue. Give customers no incentive to move off Windows Server. (Which is going to conflict with the MS folks still wanting lock-in.)

The install and upgrade UI on 2008 Server are a bit more “webby” … but it seems the Microsoft folk have not yet entirely got the message. While a distinct improvement, the 2008 UI still feels a bit dated.

Right. I’m describing an MS product as “dated”. You have no idea how odd that feels. Windows has gone from the extreme cutting edge (as when I went to a Windows developer conference in 1984), to “dated”?! Very, very strange ….