From the Horse’s Mouth: Microsoft Details Windows Server Roadmap

From the Horse’s Mouth: Microsoft Details Windows Server Roadmap

Mary Jo Foley

Microsoft has a new Windows Server timetable. It is committing to provide a minor “update” Windows Server release roughly every two years, and a major release every four years.

Microsoft officials are on a U.S. press tour this week, explaining the company’s latest thinking about how and when to release new versions of its server platform.

Based on the new roadmap, for the remainder of the decade, customers can expect the following:

Windows Server 2003 Update (code-named “R2) in 2005

Windows Server Longhorn in 2007

Windows Server Longhorn Update in 2008

Windows Server Blackcomb in 2010+

While the forthcoming releases, according to this schedule, are spaced three years apart, Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to deliver new functionality every two years, once it gets on track with its timetable, said Bob Muglia, the Microsoft Senior VP overseeing the Windows Server System.

“We want a great deal of predictability for our customers,” Muglia told Microsoft Watch on Wednesday.

Microsoft’s Windows roadmaps for both its client and server have been in disarray, as of late. Microsoft officials have been fuzzy about when and whether to expect new product releases in the coming months and years. But in the past two weeks, the company has been attempting to get its roadmap house in order.

Before Microsoft delivers R2, it is planning to roll out Microsoft Virtual Server 2005; Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1; a single Windows Server 2003 64-bit Extended Systems release for AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon EM64; tthe Server Performance Advisor feature pack and the Windows Update Services (formerly known as Software Update Services) feature pack, Muglia confirmed.

“Going forward, expect us to do fewer feature packs,” he said. Instead of releasing new layered functionality in this form — which customers have found difficult to locate and download — Microsoft will bundle up new features in the interim Windows Server Update releases, he said.

The anticipated R2 release, which Microsoft expects to deliver next year, will build on top of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Muglia said. Because Microsoft is not changing the Windows Server 2003 binaries — except in a very few, specialized cases, according to Muglia — “customers won’t need to run typical regression tests” on this release. Consequently, Microsoft will be able to roll it out more quickly than a typical new operating system release, Muglia said.

New features expected to be included in R2 will include network-quarantine security facilities; Windows Rights Management Services, SharePoint Services collaboration software; and TrustBridge identity-federation/management technology.

Muglia refuted the rumor that Microsoft might deliver a workstation complement to R2, supposedly code-named “D2.” Instead, he said, expect the 64-bit X86 Windows XP client to fulfill the role of a Windows Server workstation product.

Longhorn Server, which Microsoft is developing in lock-step with Longhorn client, will include more integrated management capabilities; a new scripting/monitoring shell, code-named “Monad”; dynamic partitioning capability; support for diskless blades and PCI-Express support, Muglia said.

Muglia said Microsoft’s current plan is to provide a full set of SKUs for Longhorn Server: Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter. Prices will be comparable to the existing Windows Server 2003 SKUs, he said.

Muglia said that all of the Longhorn pillars outlined by Microsoft at the Professional Developer Conference last October will be included in Longhorn Server. These included the Indigo communication subsystem; the Avalon presentation subsystem; and the WinFS file system. Regarding WinFS — the subsystem that Microsoft supposedly needed to trim in order to get Longhorn Server out the door — Muglia acknowledged it will be included, but that “the exact scenarios” it will support other than desktop and terminal server connectivity “are TBD (to be determined).”

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.