Microsoft Previews Windows .NET Server

Grooming Windows 2000's Successor

Enterprises eager to know what will come with the next version of Microsoft Corp.’s next server operating system now have a better clue. Microsoft has issued a feature-complete milestone of its forthcoming Windows .NET Server, which will replace the server versions of Windows 2000.

Release Candidate 1 of Windows .NET Server is finished and Microsoft will distribute the code to anyone who wants to test it, the company said Wednesday.

At least one more release candidate is planned before the operating system is Released to Manufacturing (RTM). RTM is projected for late this year with general availability of the server operating system family a few months later in early 2003.

"The point here is that we've actually delivered a product that is very reliable, very stable, that could in many of our customer scenarios could be used in a production environment," says Bob O'Brien, group product manager for Windows .NET Server.

The Windows .NET Server family currently consists of six versions. Windows .NET Web Server and Windows .NET Standard Server are 32-bit-only operating systems. Windows .NET Enterprise Server (the successor to Windows 2000 Advanced Server) and Windows .NET Datacenter Server, will each ship in a 32-bit and a 64-bit version.

From a system requirement point of view, the operating system requires little in the way of additional hardware compared with Windows 2000, except in the case of 64-bit systems. The code base is primarily the same, with the most substantial changes coming in improvements to the Active Directory and the addition of the .NET Framework.

RC1 is light on new features. Microsoft developers integrated UDDI support after the Beta 3 release. More features were taken out since the November Beta 3 release.

Analyst Al Gillen with IDC says RC1 is offering the industry an idea of what Windows .NET Server is going to be: "Windows 2000 Release 2."

"They've had 2 1/2 years to find all the bottlenecks, find all the residual problems and you can iron all those things out, which I think they have," Gillen says. "It's not going to be a revolutionary product, but it looks to me like they've got some good stuff in here."

The availability of RC1 conforms to Microsoft's public timetable for delivering the final product roughly three years after the release of Windows 2000, which required a "summer" delivery of RC1. Microsoft has missed several previous timetables for the server product, formerly known by the Whistler codename and the short-lived title of Windows 2002.

Redmond originally planned to ship the servers in early 2002, a few months after the Windows XP client. That timetable slipped to the second half of 2002, and then Bill Gates dropped his Trustworthy Computing bombshell.

Responding to persistent customer and industry complaints about security in Microsoft products, Gates' Trustworthy Computing e-mail pledged that Microsoft would begin giving security concerns top priority in the development cycle. In an e-mail sent to customers last week, Gates said a Trustworthy Computing-related developer training and code review originally planned to take one month took two months and the initiative has cost the company $100 million.

Microsoft has cited the Trustworthy Computing initiative as partially responsible for delaying the Windows .NET Server release into early 2003.

About the Author

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