VMWare will be holding it's virtualization trade show, aptly named VMWorld, next week in San Francisco.

Two of last year's biggest guest exhibitors, Microsoft and Citrix, won't be so big; and not by choice. VMWare is limiting the two titans to ten by ten foot exhibit spaces. Can you imagine? I can't imagine Microsoft fitting it's concierge desk in that space, let alone their actual exhibits.

Due to new rules, both companies are also denied the opportunity to buy in to the event as a sponsor. Those opportunities are limited to official VMWare partners.

This leaves Microsoft and Citrix virtually muzzled at next week's virtualization show. Last year, both companies were "Gold Sponsors" with 400 square feet of booth space each. Now, they get a walk-in closet and a mandate not to show off any new virtualization products.

Microsoft has found a work around for this year's situation.

This week, the 'Softies have released a free and public download of their latest version of Hyper-V (formerly called Hyper-V Server 2008 R2). This is more than a shot across VMWare's bow. The new version of Microsoft's hypervisor is much more competitive against VMWare's ESXi.

With the new Hyper-V R2, the biggest improvements are the ability to hot switch appliances within a daisy chain of servers, more hardware support across the board, and a host of new "clustering" features to bullet proof data backup and recovery.

Since Microsoft can't show this off next week at VMWorld, I do wonder what they will do with their 100 square feet of booth space.