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.