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Allchin Updates Windows Server Roadmap at WinHEC

Microsoft is now developing the Windows "Longhorn" server and Windows "Longhorn" client in lockstep, a change from the staggered development the company was previously pursuing for its next generation version of Windows, a senior Microsoft executive said Tuesday.

"Today, 'Longhorn' client, 'Longhorn' server are generally connected together. We're building it in synch. That was a change. Perhaps a year ago that wasn't our plan, but it is our plan today," Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president for platforms, said during his keynote address at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle.

Allchin updated other elements of the Windows Server roadmap during his keynote. He reaffirmed that Microsoft will deliver an update to Windows Server 2003 next year and said the 64-bit editions for extended systems will be delivered at the same time as Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

Longhorn

While Microsoft has been purposefully vague on the Longhorn client roadmap, the company has been even more vague when it came to the server version. The company had implied that the server version could ship months or years after the client version.

The last time Microsoft delivered the client and server components of its operating system at the same time was in the Windows 2000 generation. At first, Microsoft aimed to develop and deliver Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 at the same time, when both projects went by the code-name "Whistler." Over time, the Windows Server 2003 project fell 18 months behind Windows XP.

Company officials have said they save money in development by pursuing both client and server operating systems at the same time.

As for delivery schedules, Microsoft is officially saying only that the first public beta of Longhorn, both client and server, will come in 2005. Widely reported internal schedules have the delivery date in the first half of 2006. While Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates has said that 2006 is a reasonable delivery date, the official company line is that Longhorn will only ship when customers say the product is ready.

Windows Server 2003 Update

A little closer to delivery than Longhorn is an updated version of Windows Server 2003. Microsoft first discussed a possible updated version of Windows Server 2003 in March, and Allchin confirmed on Tuesday that the project is still alive.

"We have an update of Windows Server 2003 coming out next year," Allchin said. Early discussions of the update involved rolling together all the add-ons that Microsoft has made available for the server since shipping it in April 2003, such as Windows SharePoint Services, the Group Policy Management Console and other elements.

Allchin gave the first indication that new features were being developed for the update. He discussed a security capability he called "isolation" that has also been referred to as quarantining.

"The main core capability that I want to highlight in this talk about that release is about isolation," Allchin said. "There are some other things in that release, but primarily that is the core focus for it."

Microsoft is working with networking partners to create a comprehensive isolation capability, Allchin said.

"You have a laptop, you connect through VPN to a company, or maybe you bring the laptop into the company physically and you plug it in, the thing is isolated until it goes through a set of tests," he said. The tests, which would be configurable by IT departments, might check for a certain level of antivirus signatures or a certain level of updates.

Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems

Another kind of update to Windows Server 2003 is also getting closer -- the several editions for 64-bit extended systems. Microsoft plans two new versions of Windows Server 2003 that will support both AMD's 64-bit processors and Intel's new 64-bit extensions for Intel Xeon processors. The versions are Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems. Allchin said the extended system editions are "coming out at exactly the same time as [Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1]."

Allchin did not provide a timetable for Windows Server 2003 SP1, which has previously been scheduled for the second half of this year. Both SP1 and the 64-bit editions of Windows Server 2003 had been slated for availability by the end of 2003.

Also at WinHEC, Microsoft announced that Windows XP Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems would be available in the fourth quarter as well.

Small Business Server and Storage Server

A WinHEC presentation slide that showed the Windows Longhorn Server Beta and the Windows Server 2003 Update coming in 2005 also showed updates coming next year for two other versions of Windows Server. Microsoft plans an update of Windows Small Business Server 2003. That is a fairly fast turnaround, given that Windows Small Business Server 2003 shipped in October, five months later than most of the rest of the Windows 2003 family. The company is also working on a 2005 version of Windows Storage Server code-named "Storm."

About the Author

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

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