Microsoft to Release Windows Server 2008 RCO, Vista SP1 Beta

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-09-24

Microsoft to Release Windows Server 2008 RCO, Vista SP1 Beta

Microsoft will make the first release candidate for Windows Server 2008 and the first beta for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 available within the next 24 hours, the software maker said Sept. 24.

A Community Technology Preview of Windows Server virtualization, code-named Viridian, will also be released for customer and partner download and testing.

So will the CTP for the IIS 7 (Internet Information Services 7.0) Media Pack, which can also be installed as part of Windows Server Core and features Windows Media Services 2008. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., said the Media Pack will provide two times the scalability over Windows Media Services 9.0.

For its part, Windows Server 2008 brings new technologies like server and presentation virtualization capabilities, IIS 7, Server Core, PowerShell, Network Access Protection, Server Manager, and enhanced networking and clustering technologies.

"All of these feature improvements provide customers with the most integrated Windows solution to date. For example, IIS 7.0, Microsofts platform for developing and reliably hosting Web applications and services, is experiencing strong customer momentum, with more than 13 hosting companies offering IIS 7.0 and more than 1,200 customers who have deployed it via the GoLive license," said Bill Laing, general manager of Microsofts Windows Server Division.

Click here to read more about what Microsoft has said about the availability of the first Windows Server 2008 release candidate.

Some customers, like Windrush Frozen Foods, a U purveyor of frozen, chilled and ambient foods, based in Witney, England, say they are looking forward to taking advantage of the new features found in the server software.

"Our operations are up and running 24 hours a day, so it is critical for us to have a stable technology infrastructure. With Windows Server 2008 we are looking forward to taking advantage of clustering and data recovery features to help us provide consistent, uninterrupted services to our customers," said Windrush IT manager Robbie Roberts.

Windows Server 2008 includes a thin, hypervisor-based software virtualization layer that runs between the hardware and the Windows Server 2008 operating system.

"The code for this layer is less than a megabyte in size and gives customers greater flexibility to provision multiple applications and services to servers and blades, while achieving greater application performance than offered by traditional virtual machine environments," Laing said.

IT organizations will be able to virtualize most workloads given Viridians scalability, including multiprocessor guests, large memory allocation of more than 32GB per machine, and integrated virtual switch support.

Read details here about why Microsoft cut core features from Viridian.

The 64-bit, microkernelized hypervisor architecture of Windows Server 2008 also supports a broad array of devices, both 32- and 64-bit and multiprocessor guests, and a variety of storage solutions including iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN (storage area network), he said.

While Microsoft still plans to release Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 together on Feb. 27, 2008, in what will be the companys single largest launch ever, company officials acknowledged recently that Windows Server 2008 will be released to manufacturing in early 2008 rather than late 2007.

Microsoft also released on Sept. 24 a first, closed beta of Windows Vista SP1 to a select group of about 12,000 testers. The current plan is to release Vista SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008.

The beta focuses on specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.

Vista SP1 will be very different from Windows XP SP2, which was all about security and broke a large number of applications, including some of Microsofts own, as it involved trade-offs around application compatibility and the user experience, David Zipkin, senior product manager for Windows Client, told eWEEK Aug. 28.

"That is not our intent with Vista SP1, which we are designing to limit user interface changes as much as possible. Those UI changes that we do make will be quite small and will not require retraining or anything like that," he said.

Page 2: Microsoft to Release Windows Server 2008 RCO

Microsoft to Release Windows

Server 2008 RCO, Vista SP1 Beta">

Microsoft is going to do its best to limit any impact of SP1 on application compatibility and plans to add some shims to improve this, said Zipkin, who also noted that the service pack will include a change to the way applications communicate with the Windows Security Center.

Whats the matter with Vista? Here are 12 reasons why its struggling, and five ways to get it back on its feet.

The software maker also released the private beta for Windows XP SP3 to select OEMs and ISVs the week of Sept. 17. "We are still planning on a public beta, which should be available in the near future," a spokesperson told eWEEK. XP SP3 is currently slated for release sometime in the first half of 2008.

Microsoft also announced Sept. 24 that pre-release versions of reliability and compatibility fixes are available today on the Connect site and will later be available via Windows Update.

"These are a collection of fixes that have been made to address a small set of reliability, compatibility, stability, security and performance issues. These prereleases will provide incremental improvements to the most common issues—but in general, these improvements or fixes are going to be very narrow in scope," the spokesperson said.

Read details here about how Microsoft fixed a validation issue that withheld Vista features.

The Windows Vista reliability prerelease improves reliability and stability for battery life and while opening menus for some startup applications; resolves a compatibility issue affecting some third-party anti-virus software applications; and provides better startup response and system recovery time after system inactivity, the spokesperson said.

The USB roll-up improves compatibility with many USB devices and betters the experience when devices are connected and disconnected.

The Windows Media Player roll-up eliminates the corruption of the Media Player database in certain scenarios and of media stream in certain situations, while the MSXML Reliability update resolves reliability and application compatibility issues in Microsoft XML Core Service 4.0 Service Pack 2.

The Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows, which applies only to Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate, addresses issues in the Media Center extensibility platform and an issue with digital cable card components when certain cable cards are used, the spokesperson said.

It also improves interaction between the Media Center PC and Xbox 360 when used as a Media Center Extender, she said.

And, in other Microsoft product update news, the first update to Windows Home Server will be released Sept. 25 via Windows Update, bringing product usability and out-of-box experience enhancements. More details on the update and the functionality improvements it aims to bring can be found here.

Microsoft has already provided this update to its hardware and distribution partners and Hewlett-Packard will incorporate this update in its MediaSmart Server, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

"Customers already using the system builder version of Windows Home Server will automatically receive the enhancements through Windows Update," he said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Rocket Fuel