Microsoft Corp. last week made Release Candidate 1 of Windows Server 2003 R2 available for download, moving one step closer to the final release of the long-awaited update to the companys flagship server system, which is due by years end.
The release of the RC1 code follows the release of RC0 in late August. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the current plan is not to have another release candidate but to release the final code to manufacturing. "The product is on track for delivery by the end of the year," the spokesperson said.
R2 is an update release built on Windows Server 2003 SP1 (Service Pack 1) and provides improved platform capabilities; branch office server solutions; and identity, access and storage management.
Bob Muglia, senior vice president for Microsofts Windows Server Division, told attendees at the companys Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles last month that R2 would bring features such as Services for Unix, the WS-Management (Web Services for Management) standard, along with the next generation of Microsoft Management Console, MMC 3.0. "Closing the loop between developers and operational systems still has a long way to go, but delivering MMC 3.0 is the first deliverable in that regard," Muglia said.
Users have largely been upbeat about R2 and the changes it promises to bring, particularly as the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, is not expected to ship until the second half of 2007.
There have been 25,000 combined public downloads of the second beta and first-release candidate of R2, the spokesperson said. Earlier this month, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., also announced some licensing changes, including that Windows Server 2003 R2, Enterprise Edition would let users run up to four virtual instances on one physical server at no additional cost.
Microsoft officials last week also reiterated their commitment to working with industry organizations and partners to foster interoperability and standards for virtualization technologies. The COM (Component Object Model) APIs for Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 have been published publicly on the Microsoft Developer Network, and several companies have used these APIs to integrate management tools.
Microsoft has similar plans for future Windows virtualization technology, the officials said. Microsoft recently decided to christen its Virtual Server 2005 SP1 as Virtual Server 2005 R2. The renamed product is still due to ship this quarter, but the follow-on release is not due until the latter half of next year.
Microsoft is also working with the Distributed Management Task Force on standards for virtualization management; on industry hardware standards for device virtualization through the PCI-SIG; and with the 1394 Trade Association, which is part of the IEEE, to raise awareness of virtualization and to evolve its technologies to align with future device virtualization.
The company discussed and demonstrated some of this work at the VMworld conference in Las Vegas last week.