Windows Server: The Next-Next-Generation Plans

Microsoft gives Tech Ed developers the lowdown on Windows Server Longhorn Release 2 and even features pegged for Blackcomb, the version to follow Longhorn.

ORLANDO, Fla.—Although Microsoft is still working on the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn and due to ship in 2007, the company already has a team working on Longhorn Release 2 and is looking at the potential feature set for Blackcomb, the version that follows Longhorn.

"We have already begun planning for Longhorn R2 as well as looking at possible features for Blackcomb, the version of Windows beyond Longhorn," Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows Server division at Microsoft Corp., said Tuesday in a strategic briefing titled "Significantly Reducing the Cost of IT over the Next Decade" at the Tech Ed conference here.

In a forward-looking presentation, Muglia talked in detail about technologies to be seen in Windows Server 2003 Release 2, due later this year, and in Longhorn Server and beyond.

These technologies range from per-application firewalls to RDC (remote differential compression), a file type-independent technology that replicates changes to files over the WAN rather than replicating the entire file.

Muglia spent a lot of time telling the several hundred people in his audience about Microsofts vision for working with edge information, about how networks evolve, and about where policy—not topology—will define the boundary of the Net.

"That is a major focus of what we are doing with integrating the network, where corporate policy determines where the Intranet ends and the Internet begins," he said, adding that this is a long-term vision for Microsoft that is still in its early stages.

A number of components are necessary for this, from federated identity to authentication and authorization, he said, adding that the password system used today will be replaced by two-factor authentication and biometrics.

Another important factor is universal addressability, which will take the longest to be realized and will require point-to-point and peer-to peer recognition, Muglia said, while the boundary has to be redefined.

IP Security policies will allow that, he said, noting that about 70 percent of the information and traffic flowing through Microsofts Intranet is IPSec-protected.

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End users need a different type of experience that allows them to access information from anywhere in a fairly transparent manner, he said. "The key to this is thinking about per-application-based firewalls, where small tubes of information are created along with a filter to make sure that only the protocol and associated port are open and protected," Muglia said.

Underlying all of this will be a robust authentication system and environment, such as Microsofts Active Directory, he said, adding that about 75 percent of enterprises use it as their primary directory.

Microsoft also is investing heavily in management through its DSI (Dynamic Systems Initiative) and is building models into Longhorn that understand the "health" of a system.

Muglia said the company is making investments in scripting and in the user interface to further simplify management of Windows systems. "We take that focus very seriously, across different segments and audiences," he said.

Microsoft also will bring changes in Longhorn that will further drive down costs in distributed systems and that environment, he said.

Windows Server Release 2, due in the last quarter of the year, will bring a number of improvements for companies with distributed branches, he said, bringing Ravi Gopal, a group product manager in the Windows Server division, to the stage to give a demonstration.

In the demo, Gopal showed a new technology in R2, remote differential compression, which is file type-independent and replicates changes to files over the WAN rather than replicating the entire file.

Next Page: Reducing complexity across applications.