Microsoft Details Windows Server Futures

At WinHEC, Microsoft talked up the potential of 64-bit for forthcoming Windows Server products. And developers filled in the blanks regarding what Microsoft wouldn't say.

SEATTLE—If you think Microsoft is jazzed about the potential of 64-bit desktops, wait until you hear how it is planning around 64-bit servers.

On the final day of its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) here, Microsoft expanded on its Windows Server platform strategy.

While company officials didnt offer any details on the "Windows Server 2003 Update"—the interim Windows Server release code-named "R2" and expected next year—they did talk about the hardware design points they are targeting with Longhorn Server, which Microsoft execs currently are hinting will ship in 2006-07, a few months after Longhorn client.

(Microsoft is expected to talk more about R2 next week, when the company is expected to go public with more Windows Server roadmap details.)

By 2005, "we expect virtually all servers to be 64-bit-capabable," Jim Livingston, lead program manager with Microsofts Windows Server architecture team, said in his Friday morning talk.

Livingston said Microsoft is tracking three trends that are affecting how it is designing its server products. He said the company considers 64-bit to be the volume server platform, for everything from blades to high-end servers.

He noted that Microsoft is seeing exponential growth in the number of "sockets," or processors, supported in all categories of servers, as well as in the number of "cores," or threads, supported per processor. And Microsoft is expecting partitioning to become "pervasive" across all server families in the not-too-distant future, Livingston added.

Microsoft is predicting "commodity" low- to mid-range server platform in this time frame will be four-socket servers supporting 16-plus threads. Microsoft is identifying "high-mid-range servers" in the 2006-07 time frame as machines running eight sockets and 32-plus threads.

Livingston told WinHEC attendees that Microsoft considers 1,000-socket machines to be "on a relatively near-term horizon," meaning the Longhorn timeframe (2006-07).

So, what does Redmond have up its sleeve to take advantage of all this horsepower?

First up, according to Livingston, is the Microsoft Virtual Server (MVS) 2005 product, which he said will ship in June of this year. MVS 2005 is based on the Connectix virtual server technology that Microsoft acquired last year.

MVS 2005 will provide for support for up to 64 virtual machines running on a single server. He reiterated that Microsoft is expecting far and away most of its customers to use MVS to help with migration to new operating systems and applications. Over time, as Microsoft adds X64 support to MVS, it also will enable users to run 32-bit apps on 64-bit machines, he said.

Livingston noted that internally, Microsoft is running both Longhorn client and Longhorn server builds on top of MVS.

Next up will be Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which is due out by the end of this calendar year.

SP1 will include support for many of the security features that will be part of Windows XP Service Pack 2, such as remote-procedure-call and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) lock-down, Livingston confirmed. And it will also act as the foundation for Microsofts 64-bit Extensions releases, which are due to ship simultaneously with SP1.


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