AMSTERDAM — Microsoft has revealed that it has drawn “the line in the sand” for shipping the final version of its future operating system, code-named ‘Longhorn’. The first beta version of the product will be available for developers this year. The company also revealed that it is abandoning the policy of piecemeal releases of software updates on the web, moving towards major versions of server products instead.
Users of Windows Server products can expect to see significant new value over the coming 18 months, according to Samm DiStasio, group product manager, Windows Server. DiStasio made this promise during a press conference outlining the Windows Server Roadmap at Tech Ed, Microsoft’s Annual Developer Conference currently taking place in the RAI Centre in Amsterdam.
DiStasio observed that Microsoft is currently releasing major versions of its server products every four or so years with updates released two years later. The updates — as opposed to Service Packs — contain optional features. Microsoft moved to this model, he said as customers were uncomfortable with new features being made available on a piecemeal basis on the web.
With that in mind, users should see Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2003 Feature Pack this year to be followed in 2005 by Windows Server Longhorn Beta 1, Windows Server High Performance Computing Edition and Windows Server 2003 Update, codenamed R2.
The second Windows Server Longhorn beta will be available in 2006 as will Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1. 2007, he said, is “the line in the sand” for shipping the final version of Windows Server Longhorn with an Update and Service Pack 1 to follow in 2008 or later.
Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will improve reliability and address the major concerns expressed by customers. It will feature improved security and will adopt the relevant enhancements from Windows XP Service Pack 2 including RPC and DOOM lockdown, a security configuration wizard and boot protection for clean installs — this is where a newly installed OS is online but unpatched and is thus vulnerable to attack. In such an instance, the firewall is automatically turned on.
Other security measures include a facility to inspect clients for virus infection and to isolate them. This is particularly relevant for businesses where users connect from home or take laptops out of the office.
Users will also see increased performance with a speed increase of more than 10pc for TPC, TPGH, SAP and SSL.
According to DiStasio, Windows Server Longhorn will be a high-level next- generation web services platform with integrated management of IIS, ASP .Net and “Indigo”. It will also focus on shared usage and hosting. It will also be easy to manage. Deployment will be role-based, he said meaning it will require less maintenance and will offer a reduced attack surface. It will feature “better-than-Unix” scripting, enhanced functionality including IPv6 and it will support new hardware and standards including dynamic partitioning and diskless Blade support.
By David Stewart