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Windows .NET Server RC2 Getting Close

Microsoft is due to get Release Candidate 2 of Windows .NET Server out the door this month.

The final test version of Windows .NET Server would need to ship around October for Microsoft to adhere to its plan for stamping the gold code in 2002 for an early 2003 release of Windows .NET Server.

A solid step along that path occurred in late July when Microsoft put out Release Candidate 1 for Windows .NET Server. In its operating system cycle, Microsoft generally goes through three rounds of beta tests, followed by two or three Release Candidates before finalizing the code.

System software analyst Al Gillen with market research firm IDC said the RC1 release timing put Microsoft in a good position for a late 2002 RTM and early 2003 product release. “Normally the Release Candidate stage lasts for three months. You’ve got the opportunity to have two full Release Candidates before RTM,” Gillen said.

The Windows .NET Server family of operating systems represent modifications of the Windows 2000 code base that bring Active Directory enhancements, more secure default settings, the Microsoft .NET Framework and 64-bit computing to the Windows server line. The operating system will ship four editions: Windows .NET Standard Server, Windows .NET Enterprise Server, Windows .NET Datacenter Server and Windows .NET Web Server. It represents three years of feedback and tinkering with Win2K.

Gillen contends Windows .NET Server effectively represents a “Windows 2000 Server Release 2.” Gartner analyst John Enck also sees Windows .NET Server as a relatively minor update, targeted primarily at customers still running Windows NT 4.0 environments.

RC1 was light on new features. Since the Beta 3 release in November 2001, Microsoft developers integrated UDDI support and the company announced support for eight-node failover clustering in the Enterprise Server edition. More features were taken out since Beta 3. In May, Microsoft dropped the Session Initiation Protocol and SharePoint Team Services. SIP and SharePoint Team Services will be shipped separately after the general availability of Windows .NET Server.

“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—be used in a production environment,” Bob O’Brien, group product manager for Windows .NET Server, said of RC1.

Probably the biggest development with RC1 was Microsoft’s opening of the test code to a much broader set of testers. Prior to RC1, authorized testing of Windows .NET Server was limited primarily to members of Microsoft subscription services, such as TechNet and MSDN. “The difference here is that we will move from thousands [of testers] to hundreds of thousands of people,” O’Brien said.

According to O’Brien, RC2 shouldn’t bring new features but it should bring decisions on open issues. One is whether to limit SMP support to two processors in Windows .NET Standard Server. It would represent a cut from the four-processor support in Win2K Server. The other decision is whether to provide a 64-bit edition of Windows .NET Standard Server.

About the Author

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

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