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Longhorn Server Slated For Second Half Of '07

At its Management Summit, Microsoft narrows down Longhorn Server's release date and reveals that Vista security will come with strings attached.

Longhorn Server, the next version of the Windows Server operating system, will ship in the second half of 2007, Microsoft disclosed at its Management Summit on Tuesday. Microsoft also introduced a new scripting language for controlling Windows applications, and said some of Windows Vista's security features will require additional Microsoft products.

Microsoft also said the Distributed Management Task Force, an industry standards body, has ratified Microsoft's Web Services for Management spec as a preliminary standard.

During a speech at the conference in San Diego, Microsoft senior VP of servers and tools Bob Muglia demonstrated features of the upcoming Windows Vista operating system he said could lower administrative costs for IT departments, including rolling out, securing, and monitoring the performance of PC networks. "Vista will be, without a shadow of doubt, the most secure version of Windows we've ever released," Muglia said.

Microsoft is designing new versions of its Operations Manager and System Management Center products for distributing Vista to PCs, Muglia added. The desktop operating system is scheduled to ship early next year.

To take advantage of some of the management features in Vista, however, IT departments will need to purchase additional Microsoft products. Vista's Network Access Protection capability, which lets companies quarantine laptops that have been off the corporate network until they can be updated with security patches, will require System Management Server and the upcoming Longhorn Server. Muglia said Longhorn Server will arrive in the second half of next year, the first time Microsoft has narrowed down a release date for that product.

Later this year, Microsoft will release a new command-line interface and scripting language for controlling Windows applications called Windows PowerShell, which Muglia showed for the first time. Using PowerShell, which he said will replace a "terrible" command-line interface in today's version of Windows, system administrators can type commands to quickly control groups of computers and perform tasks such as moving E-mail mailboxes. PowerShell includes "what if" and "validate" commands that can show admins the expected results of actions before they're performed.

PowerShell will be available as a download from Microsoft's Web site by the end of the year, and will eventually be included in Windows, according to Kirill Tatarinov, a corporate VP at Microsoft. The next versions of Microsoft's Exchange and Operations Manager will take advantage of the interface, and IT shops can write their own scripts, he says.

Microsoft is re-branding Operations Manager and Systems Management Server under the name System Center.

Muglia demonstrated how Vista can be used to set policies across groups of users to keep networks more secure. For example, he demonstrated a series of actions that could prevent users from plugging portable USB drives, considered a security risk, into their machines. Before the demo, Muglia donned a yellow hard hat and an epoxy gun to caulk the USB ports in two PCs. Said Muglia, "This is what our customers want."

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