However, so far Hyper-V lacks some features that VMware has, and Microsoft might be focusing on capabilities that users don't really care about all that much. On Monday, Muglia demonstrated for the first time a feature that will let IT administrators migrate an application from one server to another without disrupting use of the application. This live migration capability will be available in the next release of Hyper-V along with Windows Server 2008.
VMware's VMotion feature already enables live migration. Plus, that capability might not be very important to customers. MLS' Lavellee said live migration is not an important feature to him.
Microsoft also thinks it's getting into the market at a good time. Even though companies have been talking about virtualization for many years, just about 12 percent of servers being sold today are being used for virtualization, according to Microsoft's Kelly.
Microsoft also says timing could work in its favor in terms of the economic downturn. "We typically see very rapid adoption of technologies that help save money and deliver agility in down markets. Customers have to find cost savings somewhere, and so technologies that help them are pretty critical," Kelly said.
Microsoft is itself quickly adopting virtualization, the executives said. All new servers brought into the company's data centers must be virtualized, Turner said.
Currently, a "substantive percentage" of the Microsoft.com Web site, including Technet and MSDN, runs on Hyper-V, Muglia said. The servers running those portions of the site are getting more than 50 percent utilization, which compares to the industry standard of about 15 percent or less, he said.
Microsoft is among other companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, making announcements in the run-up to VMware's annual conference starting next week.
(Eric Lai is a Computerworld reporter.)