Windows Server 2008 RC2 Unlikely - Source

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Windows Server 2008 is currently in RTM "escrow," which means that the product team thinks the code is good to go but wants to tinker with it just a bit longer, said a source close to Microsoft, who requested anonymity. "There may very well not be an RC2," said the source.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined comment, saying only that Microsoft "is making good progress on Windows Server 2008" and is on track to launch it at the Feb. 27 launch event in Los Angeles, at which SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 will also be introduced.

Microsoft last August pushed the Windows Server 2008 RTM timeframe from the end of 2007 into Q1, but many industry observers chalked this up to Microsoft's desire to synchronize the release of Server 2008 with Vista service pack 1.

While Microsoft partners are excited about the imminent arrival of Windows Server 2008, some who've been burned by technical glitches with Windows Vista aren't exactly jumping up and down with excitement.

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Jay Tipton, vice president at Technology Specialists, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based solution provider, doesn't expect a huge initial spike in adoption of Windows Server 2008 due to lingering fears of the Vista scenario repeating itself.

"I'm not going to be jumping on the bandwagon to start replacing Windows Server 2000 and 2003 with Server 2008. And I'm not going to start pushing Server 2008 until it has been out there a while," said Tipton.

But Alex Pearson, president and CEO of IS Systems, a San Antonio-based solution provider who has been testing Windows Server 2008 since the first beta release, expects Server 2008 to quickly gain acceptance in the market on the strength of its strong performance.

"I've been running beta under virtual machine on Virtual Server, and even though I've been trying to make it purposely sluggish by installing it on Celeron laptop, and having multiple people connect through terminal services, it still performs well," said Pearson.

Steven Mulka, a partner with SIS, a Duluth, Ga.-based solution provider, expects virtualization and the enhancements Microsoft has made to terminal services in Windows Server 2008 to be the tangible business benefits companies have been looking for to justify upgrading to Vista. "Businesses don't change their server software just for the sake of change, there have to be solid business reasons behind the decision," said Mulka.

The arrival of Windows Server 2008 will complete the framework for supporting the requirements of the Microsoft toolsets that are coming out, such as Visual Studio and SQL Server 2008, according to Mulka.

"That's a main driving factor, and companies will have to look at this and ask themselves whether they have the foundation to put in the newer products," he said.