In a move that is so rare it is a little stunning, Microsoft announced the availability of a product ahead of schedule. Hyper-V, their first-generation hypervisor, has released to manufacturing and should hit the market shortly. Reviews have been generally good, though everyone (except Microsoft) admits that Microsoft's offering is not anywhere near as robust as their competitors' products, which makes sense since VMWare, Virtual Iron, and Citrix have a huge head start in the virtualization market. However, with 69% of respondents in a recent survey saying that they would test Hyper-V versus 59% for VMWare, Microsoft is poised to make a major splash, just as they have in every market they have ever entered.
Hyper-V is not hype (News.com)
VMWare has been characteristically quiet about the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but there has been some criticism of Microsoft's new product.
From a pure hypervisor standpoint, VMware's ESX product is far more mature. However, in comparing hypervisor features, I believe Microsoft has made great strides in catching up to VMware. One of the big missing components in Hyper-V is the ability to offer live migration, or what VMware calls VMotion. And to be fair, VMware has spent a lot of time and money to extend its hypervisor by expanding its application stack around the product -- an area where I believe the ultimate hypervisor fight is going to end up.
The only announcement from VMWare was a report that shows strong support for their products in the educational market, with most of the top schools in the country including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford all running VMWare in their environments.
Hyper-V talk around the virtual water cooler (InfoWorld)
Leading Universities Rely on VMware... (Sys-Con)
Personally, I think the 59-69% disparity in evaluation plans has to do with the fact that many of the people who said that they are planning to evaluate Microsoft and not VMWare have already done their VMWare evaluations or even moved on to pushing machines into production. Still, this development has to be as scary for VMWare executives as it has been for their shareholders since the share price has dropped significantly after Microsoft dropped their bomb. These executives certainly should be concerned given Microsoft's history when they move into new markets. VMWare has enough of an install base (and revenue) to avoid suffering the same fate as Netscape in the short term, but the company's leaders need to continue to innovate in order to keep their technology lead over a company with limitless dollars to throw at R&D. Do you think that VMWare needs to be concerned?