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Systems Management Server 2003 Hits RC1

Systems Management Server 2003 entered its last major testing milestone when Microsoft on Tuesday put out Release Candidate 1 of the replacement for the four-year-old SMS 2.0.

Microsoft officials say this early July RC1 release puts the product group on track to release the product to manufacturing in September. General availability usually follows release to manufacturing by one to two months. The first beta version came out in October, and the second beta version went out to testers in April.

The enhancements to SMS 2003 that are most often emphasized by Microsoft include greater mobile support for laptops and roaming users, tighter integration with Active Directory and other Windows 2000 components, improved asset discovery and management, more scalable software metering and Web-based reporting tools.

SMS 2.0 came out in early 1999 and is up to its fifth service pack. As Microsoft's release schedule for SMS 2003 has slipped, the company has delivered additional functionality for SMS 2.0 customers through feature and value packs.

Over time, Microsoft plans to merge SMS with Microsoft Operations Manager, but both management products are expected to remain as distinct products for several more years.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.