Windows Server 2008 RC1 Released for Testing

The final code will be released to manufacturing before the product launches on Feb. 27.

Microsoft has hit a new milestone with Windows Server 2008 and is making Release Candidate 1 available for customers and partners to download Dec. 5.

The code for RC1 can be downloaded here.

Microsoft also committed to release the final code to manufacturing before the wave of launch events, which Microsoft has titled "Heroes happen {here}" and which begin Feb. 27, 2008, in Los Angeles.

Until now, Microsoft has said only that the product would be available before the end of the first quarter of 2008.

"This will be the largest enterprise launch in Microsoft's history, and we anticipate training more than 300,000 people in person at more than 200 events worldwide," Joseph Landes, Microsoft's director of product manager for Windows Server 2008 and its launch manager, told eWEEK.


Microsoft will release eight versions of Windows Server 2008. Click here to read more.

The biggest online launch event in the server and tool division's history is also planned, with hundreds of thousands more people being trained, he said.

However, no decision has been made whether there will be a second release candidate before the code is released to manufacturing. "We have said from the start that the product will only be released when it is ready, and so we will listen to customer feedback about RC1 before making any decisions in that regard," he said.

With regard to Hyper-V, Microsoft's hypervisor product that is expected to ship within 180 days of the release of the server, Landes gave no update.

Windows Server 2008 RC1 brings with it enhancements to Group Policy through Group Policy Preferences, formerly known as PolicyMaker Standard Edition and Policy Share Manager. This allows customers to deploy and manage operating system and application settings that they were previously not able to manage using Group Policy, he said

Group Policy Preferences will be integrated into both the Group Policy management tools in Windows Server 2008 and the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista, which will be made available as a separate download in the Windows Server 2008 timeframe, Landes said.


To read more about the largest enterprise launch event in Microsoft's history, click here.

Since the release of Windows Server 2008 beta 3 eight months ago, some 1.8 million customers have downloaded the various software builds, and Microsoft expects that number to increase with the release of RC1, given that it will be one of the last opportunities to evaluate and comment, he said.

While the server software is widely deployed on thousands of servers inside Microsoft and across a range of workloads—it already powers the Web site—Landes said the company shied away from recommending that customers run the software in production environments.

However, more than 100 companies from 30 countries are participating in the rapid deployment Technology Adopter Program, and deployments of the server software had accelerated after RC0 became available in September, he said.


Local rapid deployment programs were also launched in countries outside of the United States, including Sweden, where customers work closely with Microsoft Consulting Services and system integrators to help them through the process, Landes said.


Read more here about why the release of Windows Server 2008 was delayed.

Some customers, like Ralph Valenzisi, director of technology for Norwalk Public Schools in Connecticut, is upbeat about the product, particularly about its new security and management features "that will help us increase our productivity and provide more consistent, reliable service to both our staff and students."

More than 40 of Microsoft's hardware and software partners will support and participate in the hundreds of launch events worldwide, while 10 of those—including Advanced Micro Devices, Citrix Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Quest, Computer Associates and Unisys—will be platinum launch sponsors.

In addition, more than 140,000 IT professionals and developers have already been trained on Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008, while 2,000 have been certified on Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft has also re-engineered its software certification program to make it easier and more affordable for its partners to certify their applications and has created the "Works with Windows Server 2008" program to help partners prioritize application compatibility with the new platform, Landes said.

The software maker also is offering free supporting test tools to help partners ensure that their applications deliver a predictable experience.


Some Windows Server 2008 features address the Linux challenge. Click here to read more.

"We anticipate that there will be more applications, devices and hardware drivers ready and certified for Windows Server 2008 when it ships than there were for Windows Server 2003 at launch," Landes said.

Microsoft has committed more than $150 million to drive worldwide interest and demand for the products, including several big global advertising campaigns, he said.


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