Microsoft Rethinks Plan For Server Operating Systems - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Rethinks Plan For Server Operating Systems

Windows XP gets all the attention, but Microsoft is reconsidering its server operating systems as well. According to a prominent exec, the software developer is plotting changes to the packaging and market positioning of its next-generation server system, including pushing DataCenter and Advanced Server editions of Windows "Whistler" to big business, positioning Whistler standard server as a small-business package, and developing a "Web blade" edition for serving up HTML pages.

Microsoft senior VP Brian Valentine told an audience of software developers at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Anaheim, Calif., on Monday, that the successor to Windows 2000 server--code-named Whistler server--could ship in four editions, compared with Microsoft's three Windows 2000 packages. Microsoft is "looking very hard" at developing a Windows server edition to power the smaller servers that sit at the front end of Web applications, Valentine said. Compaq, Dell Computer, and others already sell thin hardware for that market segment.

In addition, Valentine said the standard Whistler server would "move into unmanaged environments" where users don't have regular IT support, such as small businesses and branch offices. Microsoft has been working on making set-up and administration of servers more automated. Whistler would also ship in an Advanced Server edition for running large corporate computers and a DataCenter Server edition for the most powerful database and E-commerce servers. Windows 2000, Microsoft's current professional system, ships in desktop, standard server, Advanced Server, and DataCenter Server editions.

Valentine's remarks coincided with the release of beta 2 of Whistler server, slated for distribution to 300,000 customers and computer-industry vendors. Microsoft on Monday also released beta 2 of Windows XP, its upcoming desktop operating system for home and business users. It's slated to ship this fall in Home Edition, Professional, and 64-bit workstation editions.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, told conference attendees that improving the ability of Windows-based servers to withstand failures is key to the vendor's ability to market automated "Web services" to assist E-business transactions. "These Web services are performed by high-performance servers that need to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Gates said. "We're building fault tolerance into Windows," he added, and into Microsoft's development tools.

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