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Microsoft Gives Developers Lowdown on .NET Server at DevCon

Windows Server DevCon kicked off today in Seattle with Bill Veghte, corporate vice president for Microsoft, touting Windows .NET Server 2003 as “the fastest, most reliable and most secure” operating system ever to come out of Redmond.

Veghte’s keynote session this morning marks the first formal introduction of Windows .NET Server to developers, many of whom have been tinkering with the new OS since its first release candidate shipped in late July.

According to Veghte, Microsoft has budgeted for $1.3 billion in research and development on Windows .NET Server in 2003, and is committed to growing its marketshare for the Windows platform going forward. Over the last 24 months, Veghte said Microsoft has more than quadrupled its install base for Windows 2000 – the precursor to Windows .NET Server – and is expecting this trend to continue as Redmond moves to the new platform.

Here today, Microsoft is characterizing Windows .NET Server as a big step in regard to developer productivity. “We’re all about making your lives easier – making it easier for you to write the kinds of applications you want to write,” said David Treadwell, general manager for the .NET developer platform at Microsoft.

One of the ways Microsoft feels its new server OS is helping developers be more productive is through increased interoperability with .NET. Dave Thompson, vice president for the Windows server product group at Microsoft, said one of the most important improvements Windows .NET Server offers over Windows 2000 is that it comes pre-packaged with the .NET Framework. He said, while the .NET Framework can run on Windows 2000, Windows .NET Server offers a higher level of interoperability because it was designed from day one to work in conjunction with the framework.

In fact, Microsoft has been hinting recently that Windows .NET Server would be released with a new version of the .NET Framework. And Microsoft has confirmed this, referencing serveral times during the event to a 1.1 version of the .NET Framework -- which is expected to be released with a new version of Visual Studio .NET, code-named "Everett" -- as part of Windows .NET Server.

Key enhancements to the .NET Framework version 1.1 include the addition of the Microsoft ASP.NET Mobile Controls (formerly the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit) and the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework. Version 1.1 will also provide beefed-up security features, such as code-access security for locking down the permissions granted to ASP.NET Web applications and XML Web services.

Among the other hot topics of conversation at Server DevCon is the 6.0 version of IIS. Slated to be released with Windows .NET Server, the new version of IIS has been much anticipated since previous editions of the popular Web-serving software were found to have a number of security holes that left the product open to attack and prone to failure.

With IIS 6.0, Thompson said Microsoft has designed the software to isolate applications and communicate directly with the kernel-mode http listener, which should make it more secure and less likely to fail.

Also on the security front, Microsoft introduced what it calls the Application Security Framework. Part of Windows .NET Server, one of the notable features of the framework is that it gives administrators the ability to manage authorization protocols through an application programming interface called the Authorization Manager. With the API, business rules can be associated with different users to limit what they can do within a particular application. So, for example, within an expense-reporting system, rules could be associated with a particular task to restrict, at runtime, the amount of expenses an individual can report.

To highlight the performance of Windows .NET Server, Microsoft called on its partner, Unisys, to demonstrate an implementation of Windows .NET Datacenter Server. Steve Jones, a program manager at Unisys, ran two separate SQL installations – one running as a 4 GB environment (typical Win32) and the other as a 64 GB Windows .NET Datacenter Server – on the same Unisys ES7000 Model 130 with 32 Itanium 2 processors and 128 GB of RAM. After the 64 GB system processed more than 45 queries before its counterpart processed 4, Jones said, “The time to move to 64-bit processing is now.”

Microsoft made several references to the 64-bit capabilities of the Windows .NET Datacenter Server and the 64-bit Windows .NET Enterprise Server during the morning session. But it remained tight-lipped about a 64-bit version of the Windows .NET Standard Server, which it has reportedly been considering for release.

Redmond has also shied away from commenting on its timeline for the Release Candidate 2 of Window .NET Server, as well as the product’s subsequent release to manufacturing (RTM) and general availability. As of now, RC2 is expected around October of this year, with RTM to follow in December and public availability slated for February or March of 2003.

However, Microsoft has officially slapped the 2003 tag on the end of the Windows .NET Server brand name, which signals that an early '03 release is likely.

Furthermore, Microsoft is pushing for developers to provide feedback on Windows .NET Server to move the review process along. “This is your platform, and we cannot be successful without your help and support,” said Veghte.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated with fresh information on September 5, 2002. Specifically, clarifications were made in regard to Microsoft's plan to release .NET Framework 1.1 with Windows .NET Server.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.

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