Microsoft Rethinks Windows .Net Server Packaging

Software giant is pulling its real-time communications features and standards support out of Windows .Net Server and repackaging those features as a separate .Net Enterprise Server add-on.

Microsoft Corp. has decided to pull its real-time communications features and standards support out of Windows .Net Server and repackage those features as a separate .Net Enterprise Server add-on, according to sources close to the company.

Microsoft is likely to unveil its repackaged Real-Time Communications (RTC) Server in July, but not ship it until April 2003, according to sources familiar with the companys plans.

Microsoft is still hoping to ship its Windows .Net Server, a k a "Whistler" server, family before the end of calendar 2002. Microsoft is working to deliver Release Candidate 1 of Windows .Net Server to testers by mid-July--right around the time of the RTC Server unveiling--say sources.

RTC Server is the server equivalent of the RTC Client family of services that ship with Windows XP. These services include instant messaging, voice over IP, audio and video collaboration, and application sharing. The RTC Client relies on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) IETF standard to set up these communications; RTC Server also is expected to rely on SIP.

Up until earlier this month, Microsoft was slated to bundle the RTC Server into Windows .Net Server. Since it released Beta 3 of Windows .Net Server in the fall of 2001, the company had been touting the inclusion of RTC Server features as a draw for corporate customers like call centers.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company two weeks ago "removed SIP services support from Windows .Net Server in a beta version of the product." She attributed Microsofts decision to do this to the fact that customers, partners and testers didnt consider SIP "robust enough."

But sources say there are other reasons that Microsoft has decided to repackage RTC Server as a separate, add-on product.

"RTC Server is less secure than the rest of Windows .Net Server," says one Microsoft partner, who requested anonymity. "There are lots more vulnerabilities in the kind of messaging services that it provides."

Ship dates are another reason, sources say. While Microsoft is nearly at the Release Candidate 1 stage with its long-awaited Windows .Net Server, the RTC Server is still in a relatively early beta phase. To avoid making Windows .Net Server any later than it already is, Microsoft opted to pull out the RTC features, sources add.

Microsoft is expected to include a corporate instant messaging server (currently housed within its Exchange Server product) and its Exchange Conferece Server product, among other features, in RTC Server, say sources.

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