What is Virtual Server 2005 ?
Virtual Server 2005 is a software that allow you to install several operating systems within your system.
How Virtual Server works ?
You have to install this software on your computer. It provides a management screen which allow you to create and manage 'Virtual Machines'.
What is Virtual Machine ?
Virtual Machine is a computer you create using the Virtual Server software. Even though they exists only virtually, a normal user cannot feel that it is a virtual computer.
To create, start or stop virtual machines, you must login to the Virtual Server software. After you start a virtual machine from the Virtual Server software, it becomes a fully functional computer. You can format/partition hard disk, install operating system, install any software you want, connect to internet, print to a printer etc.
What is Host Operating System ?
Your original computer on which you install the 'Virtual Server 2005' software is called 'Host Operating System'.
What is Guest Operating System ?
You can create one or more virtual computers using the Virtual Server software. You have to install some operating system on each virtual machines. This is called 'Guest Operating System'.
Hardware for virtual machines
Virtual machines run within your host computer. So they share the same hardware with your host computer.
You have to specify the amount of memory it can use when you create virtual machines. When a virtual machine is RUNNING, the specified amount of memory will be used from host computer. So, your host computer should have several GB memory to support multiple virtual computers.
Hard disk for Virtual Machines
When you create a virtual machine, you have to 'create a virtual hard disk'. The virtual hard disk is stored as a single file within the host computer. However, the virtual machine (guest operating system) will see it as a fully functional hard disk which can be formatted, partitioned and install any operating system without affecting the host computer and other virtual machines.
You can copy this hard disk file to other machines or CDs to take backups. Or, if you want to make copies of your virtual machine, just make copies of this hard disk file.
Where to get Virtual Server software ?
You can download virtual server 2005 software for free from Microsoft web site.
There is no license required to install Virtual Server software. However, each virtual machine you create using this software is treated as a separate computer and you will need applicable licenses for any software you install including operating system license.
What are the prerequisites for Virtual Server 2005 software ?
Virtual Server 2005 requires IIS and Windows 2003 or Windows XP Professional.
Also, depending on how many virtual machines you plan to create and run at the same time, you will need several GB of memory and large hard disk on host computer to meet the needs of each virtual machine.
Learn more about prerequisites for Virtual Server 2005
How to create virtual machines ?
When you install Virtual Server 2005 software, it will install an administration web site on your host computer. Go to this admin web site, select the menu option 'Create Virtual Machine'. It will prompt you to specify memory, hard disk space, network card etc. Select your options and press the button 'Create'. Your new virtual machine is ready to use. You can launch the virtual machine from the admin web site. Next step is installing some operating system for your virtual machine.
Learn more about creating virtual machines using administration web site.
What are the limitations of Virtual Machines ?
Each virtual machine can use only one CPU even if your host computer has several CPUs. Since they are running within the software, they run bit slower than host operating system. Virtual machines are ideal for development, software testing, to try latest beta software etc. They may not be ideal for production server usage even though several web hosting companies use them for a concept called 'virtual server hosting'.
Learn more about limitations of Virtual Server 2005