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Windows Server Roadmap Gets Down to Specifics

During a series of recent media briefings, Microsoft began to give out nitty gritty details about specific timetables for the betas, SDKs and release candidates that will lead to the next round of Windows server operating systems.

The only significant change was the decision to push back the Network Access Protection technology from the "R2" release of Windows Server 2003 slated for 2005 to the Windows "Longhorn" Server release slated for 2007. For more on that decision, click here.

The minor deliverables include:

  • a beta for Windows Update Services in November.
  • a release candidate for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 "around the end of the year."
  • a Software Development Kit for Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition this year.
  • an "R2" version of Windows Storage Server in the second half of next year.
  • a beta for Windows "Longhorn" Server in the second half of next year.

    Windows Update Services

    Windows Update Services is the 2.0 version of Microsoft's free Software Update Services tool for centralized administration of Microsoft's Windows Update online service. SUS/WUS download Microsoft's patches and other updates from Windows Update and allow an administrator to determine whether they should be distributed to clients inside the customer's organization. Clients are also redirected to look to the internal SUS/WUS server rather than the external Windows Update site for patches.

    WUS offers additional server roles, more efficient bandwidth usage, the ability to group computers, extensive reporting and other features. The November beta would carry through on an earlier Microsoft promise to deliver the beta in the fourth quarter. The final release of the free tool is scheduled for the first half of 2005.

    Windows Server Roadmap
    November
    Windows Update Services Beta
    December
    Windows Server 2003 SP1 Release Candidate
    December
    SDK for Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition
    1H 2005
    Windows Update Services
    1H 2005
    Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions
    1H 2005
    Windows Server 2003 SP1
    2H 2005
    Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition
    2H 2005
    Windows Server 2003 "R2"
    2H 2005
    Windows Storage Server "R2"
    2H 2005
    Windows Server: Code-name "Longhorn" Beta

    Windows Server 2003 SP1

    A Release Candidate for Windows Server 2003 SP1 will give more customers access to new features, including the Security Configuration Wizard that Microsoft has been promising was imminent since shortly after Windows Server 2003 shipped.

    Microsoft also says preliminary testing of SP1 has yielded several performance improvements, including a 50 percent improvement in SSL workloads and up to a 50 percent reduction in CPU usage in heavy networking environments.

    Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition SDK

    Out of the 15 editions of Windows Server 2003 that are shipping or in the pipeline, the most original is the Windows Server 2003, High-Performance Computing Edition. It is designed to take advantage of massively parallel computing clusters, where Linux-based systems currently dominate. It is Microsoft's second effort within the Windows Server 2003 family to take on Linux with a dedicated SKU aimed at a niche where Linux is strong. The first was Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, which shipped in April 2003.

    The software development kit should give academic, commercial, government and defense researchers the tools to start building Windows-based clusters in advance of the HPC edition's expected second-half 2005 release.

    Windows Storage Server "R2"

    In addition to the Windows Server 2003 "R2," it turns out that Windows Storage Server 2003 will also get a Release 2. Can a Windows Small Business Server 2003 "R2" be far behind?

    Windows "Longhorn" Server Beta

    The next full release of Windows Server on Microsoft's current roadmap is Longhorn. As things stand, Longhorn is supposed to be ready in 2007. Microsoft's first hurdle will be delivering a major beta, and the hurdle now has a timetable attached to it -- the second half of 2005.

    Longhorn's functionality list got extended this week with the announcement that it would include the Network Access Protection technology originally planned for the Windows Server 2003 "R2" release.

  • About the Author

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

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