Will Server 2008's Rising Tide Raise Vista's Boat?

"Server 2008 will bring to life functions and features of Vista that have been hidden somewhat in 2003 environments," says Todd Swank, director of marketing for system builder and solution provider Nor-Tech, Burnsville, Minn. "And that's when a lot of businesses are going to begin making the transition."

For example, Vista SP1 will help reduce the blood pressure of Vista users by cutting down the number of alerts generated by User Account Control, the much maligned security measure that was introduced with the OS, Swank added. "Microsoft tweaked the intelligence around the UAC warnings in SP1, and the number of alerts has been dramatically reduced," he said.

With the 'RTM' of Vista SP1 earlier this week, speculation flared that the kernel in SP1 had undergone a significant redesign, and that Microsoft, as it has been known to do from time to time, was keeping this information under wraps so as not to raise the specter of interoperability problems.

But according to Microsoft, while the kernel, core OS files, networking stack, and file sharing are common to both Windows Server 2008 and Vista SP1, and changes have been made in the RTM of each product to pave the way for future servicing and management, these changes don't amount to a kernel re-design.

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"While many of these files have been updated for Server scenarios, most of these changes do not change the features or functionality of Windows Vista, but they are included in the service pack," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email to ChannelWeb.

Tom DeRosier, co-owner of CPU Guys, a system builder in Hanson, Mass., says the shared code base between Server 2008 and Vista SP1 sets Microsoft up for at least the next decade, because it solves common problems with configuring network devices that for years have caused migraines for administrators.

"The tie-in is a great thing, because it means all these machines will be able to set themselves up on networks much more easily," DeRosier said. "That means phones, PDAs, laptops, desktops, and Media Centers, will all be easier to work with. Imagine going out and buying a device, come home and turning it on, and server will discover it and set everything up for you -- names, permissions, right down to user access privileges."

Dave Stutzman, technical services manager at i3 Business Solutions, a Microsoft Gold partner in Grand Rapids, Mich., hasn't been recommending Vista to clients, but says that could change once the Vista SP1 RTM becomes publicly available.

"With SP1, we're going to take a much closer look at Vista, and the kernel tie-in to Server 2008. We're most interested in the enhancements and performance gains that were non-existent in previous versions," Stutzman said.