Virtual Server 2005 Mini-Review

I installed Virtual Server this evening to see how well it works.

Compared to Virtual PC, there’s one killer feature that makes it interesting to me: It runs as a service. This is very cool because unlike VirtualPC where someone had to be logged in, if the power goes out and comes back and my desktop PC comes up asking me to log in, the Virtual Server will boot itself back up and get back to serving.

This is interesting to me because as a guy running a small website, I have a server that’s flakey and being able to run the database on a different box to try to stop the server from freezing up is appealing – except I don’t have any more boxes. I have a computer with XP Pro on it, but I can’t put SQL Server on it (it wants to run on a server OS).

With Virtual Server, I can bring up a virtual server, install SQL Server on that, and move a database to it. Sure it’s slower than it would be on real hardware, but in a pinch it’s a great option.

One thing I just don’t understand is their web admin interface.

First off, it doesn’t work with Firefox. Wouldn’t network administrators be among the largest group of Firefox users?

But beyond that, it’s written as a CGI. No ASP.NET, heck no classic ASP. Bizarre. It works, but it’s, well, strange. I’d rather have a Smart Client than this tool. Considering that, thanks to it’s dependence on IE, only a Windows user could use it anyway, why not make a smart client?