Microsoft Preps Windows Server Beta Three


The upcoming CTP would be the first public milestone for Longhorn because it will be more widely distributed to partners and customers. Microsoft quietly released a CTP in December to select partners, and the Redmond, Wash., software giant previously said it would release a beta three version in the first half of 2007.

Now that Windows Vista and Office 2007 shipped this week, Microsoft is turning up the heat on its server complement, according to one industry observer. "Beta three will be a CTP soon," said the source, who pegged the current release date as March 7. "February is all about Vista/Office launches."

Longhorn is slated to feature an integrated virtualization hypervisor, enhanced support for branch offices and integration with Vista. "The bright spots are virtualization, [designed to] kill VMWare especially on 64-bit hardware, and manageability, [designed to] kill Linux in branch office deployments," the same source said.

Microsoft said it plans to ship Longhorn by the end of 2007, but observers believe it won't hit the market until 2008.

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Late last year, Microsoft handed out to select partners a private beta of Windows Server virtualization, code-named Viridian, but the public beta won't be available until the first half of 2007. Microsoft said it will ship Viridian as an add-on to the Windows Server about six months after Longhorn ships.

Microsoft made beta two of Longhorn available in May. The company is slated to release Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 in the first quarter of 2007.

As part of the Windows Server product lineup in 2008, Microsoft plans to offer an upgrade of its Small Business Server, code-named Cougar, and a new integrated server suite for the midmarket, code-named Centro.

Cougar and Centro moved into private early beta testing in December. Microsoft handed out an early CTP of Cougar and a private beta of Centro to a select group of partners.

Microsoft partners say they're glad the company can focus more attention on the Windows Server upgrade, now that Vista and Office 2007 have shipped.

Richard Warren, CTO at Channel Blade Technologies, Virginia Beach, Va., said Longhorn offers unique integration with the two new clients from Microsoft, but it can stand on its own.

"Longhorn is tremendously important, particularly as it relates to performance enhancements in both native and virtualized environments, a more robust security environment for e-commerce functionality, better instrumentation characteristics, additional functionality and manageability of IIS 7.0, highly optimized support for Vista at the desktop and vast improvements of Terminal Services," Warren said.

The added integration with Vista and Office will likely drive faster business adoption, according to Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a system builder in Burnsville, Minn.

"When Longhorn Server ships, there will be many customers ready to step in there more quickly because of its tight integration with Vista and Office 2007," Swank said.