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Microsoft Unveils Windows Server Roadmap

Windows Server 2008 general availability is still months away, but Microsoft already has plans for a Windows Server 2008 R2 release in 2009.

Windows Server 2008 general availability is still months away, but Microsoft already has plans for a Windows Server 2008 R2 release in 2009. Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server division, announced that nugget during his Wednesday morning keynote at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles.

"One of the reasons behind the R2 release is to keep delivering value to Software Assurance and Enterprise Agreement customers," explained Ward Ralston, senior technical product manager in the Windows Server division in a post-keynote interview. "We want to to make sure we're very predictable to those customers." Ralston reiterated Microsoft's update plans, which is to provide software updates every two years and major releases every four years.

Besides a projected release date of 2009 for R2, Laing said that there were no other details. He did mention that customers can expect R2 to be available only for 64-bit servers.

Here's how Laing outlined the Windows Server 2008 delivery roadmap up to R2:

2007: Windows Home Server gets a fall release; Windows Server 2008 is expected to have a release candidate prior to getting released to manufacturing in late November or December.

2008: Windows Server 2008 will be generally available in January. Windows Server codename "Cougar", aka Windows Small Business Server 2008, follows Windows Server 2008. Windows Server codename "Centro," the much-anticipated medium-sized version, is expected around or just after Cougar. Windows Server 2008 Storage Server, the storage and file server primarily targeted at SMBs, debuts sometime after Cougar and Centro.

2009: Windows Server 2008 Release 2 is planned for release.

Laing said that, as of the conference, Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3 had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times since it was made publicly available on April 25. And Microsoft's IT division is already running Longhorn on about a thousand servers, said Ralston: "We're actually delivering the daily builds for Windows Server 2008 on Windows Server 2008 [servers]."

Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles wraps up today.

Note from the Field: Windows Home Server, Windows Rally
Exciting primarily from a consumer standpoint is Windows Home Server, which has the benefit of being much like an extended file server, but with a managed device aspect thrown in. It's not just storage, but ability to access that storage among other networked users in a home environment, particularly to view photos, watch movies and stream videos. Also imagine the mundane task of having to schedule backups -- it's something we all promise to do, but almost never get around to doing.

An interesting side note: Microsoft said it will provide one free domain name from Microsoft. The domain name, explained Microsoft chairman Bill Gates during his Tuesday keynote, will allow Home Server to be set up in a remote access scenario, which will be key to providing logins to family or friends who want to gain access to photos or video media without having to resort to posting to publicly accessible and storage-limiting services such as Flickr or YouTube.

See Scott Bekker's report on WHS here.

At WinHEC on Tuesday, Gates revisited a technology that had debuted at last year's conference: Windows Rally. It's technology that consumers might not be aware of nor do they need to be concerned with it. Partners, on the other hand, need to know it intimately, since it's key to getting their products stamped with the "Certified for Windows Vista" logo of approval.

Kevin Kutz, a marketing director in the Windows Client division, confirmed that Rally has been a part of Windows Vista all along. Essentially, partners who want to get the Vista logo need to incorporate four key technologies:

  • Link Layer Topology Discovery, a layer 2 protocol that allows devices to be recognized by the network and provide one-click access to those devices.
  • Windows Connect Now, which is supposed to be more stable and secure in this version, and which provides wireless setup connectivity. Some cameras and printers can run untethered through Vista via the technology in Windows Connect Now.
  • Devices Profile for Web Services, a layer that allows programmers granular control over how devices get recognized and then connect.
  • Plug and Play Extensions, which is an 'evolution' of PnP that now extends out to the devices that get connected to the network with the addition of wireless devices.

"Rally isn't being played up and you'll never see an advertisement for it," said Kutz.

Rally tries to take out the jumping-through-hoops required for devices that users of XP or older Windows platforms might be familiar with, where often devices need drivers to install. Instead, Rally appears device-agnostic: as long as partners create device with drivers that comply with the Rally baseline technologies, the devices can get connected more easily. The duo who showcased Windows Rally during the Gates keynote came up with a new mantra: "right-click and install." It's all Vista users will need to know to install devices on Vista machines or on their networks.

To read more about Rally, click here and here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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