Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--More Microsoft Roadmap Changes--March 9, 2004

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Commentary: More Microsoft Roadmap Changes

Hot Off the Press
- US Patent Office Rejects Eolas Browser Patent

Networking Perspectives
- Exchange 2000 Server 7031 Errors

New and Improved
- Incorporate Smart Cards Into Your Identity-Management Strategy
- Buy a Fault-Tolerant Server
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== Commentary: More Microsoft Roadmap Changes ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

Last week, I discussed Microsoft's ever-evolving security roadmap, a plan that calls for the software giant to shore up its current products during the lull before the next-generation Microsoft SQL Server Yukon and Windows Longhorn waves. In a propitious bit of coincidence, this week, I can finally start discussing Microsoft's suddenly changing Windows release plans, thanks to the expiration of an agreement I made with the company. Specifically, I want to discuss the next Windows Server version, code-named R2 (for "release 2"), then move on to more publicly available information about a possible Windows XP upgrade, code-named XP Reloaded; however, a more enterprise-oriented version, code-named D2 (Get it? R2-D2), might also be in the works. Let's jump right in.

Windows Server 2003 R2
When Microsoft was developing Windows 2000, I bemoaned the company's inability to ship that product and argued that it should have released the Win2K technologies over time, instead of waiting for one Win2K monolithic release. In the end, Win2K was years late and was a huge complicated product that customers moved to very slowly. I blame this migration slowness on Active Directory (AD), which was then new to most Windows NT administrators (unless, ahem, you had Novell experience), and Group Policy, which I always saw as the "killer app" behind AD; unfortunately, I also found Group Policy difficult to implement in Win2K.
Give Microsoft some credit for learning from experience. Yes, the Win2K follow-up, dubbed Windows Server 2003 after approximately 17 name changes, was also late to market and evolved repeatedly during development, but with this release, attitudes had changed at the software giant. Rather than wait to include every conceivable product in the OS, Microsoft carefully examined the potential feature set and pushed aside everything that wasn't core to the product or wouldn't fit into a wider release schedule. These other bits of software--initially dubbed out-of-band (OOB) updates (software included with Windows 2003 was presumably in-band)--are now called feature packs and are available from the Microsoft Web site. Examples of Windows 2003 feature packs include Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), Software Update Services (SUS), Windows SharePoint Services, and Windows Rights Management Services (RMS). Some feature packs are free, while others require licensing.
If you consider these feature packs as part of the OS (as Microsoft does), the staged rollout of Windows 2003 continued for several months after its April 2003 launch, and today, numerous feature packs are available. That's where R2 comes in. R2 will combine all the free feature packs back into the core OS, providing customers who haven't yet upgraded with one integrated installation point for an improved Windows Server product that will be released before Longhorn. Yes, that's right--before Longhorn. Contrary to previous plans, Microsoft won't call this next Windows Server update Blackcomb, and the company won't ship it alongside Windows Longhorn client products. Exact timing, other features, pricing, and so on are yet to be determined, and I'll report back as soon as I learn any details.

Windows XP D2
One other tidbit I heard a while back is that the R2 release might be accompanied by an interim client upgrade dubbed D2. Presumably a second release of XP, D2 would include the business-oriented client updates that Microsoft has released since Windows 2003. I don't yet know whether this release is still happening, but last week, Microsoft did reveal that an XP update code-named XP Reloaded would likely ship in late 2004. Essentially a consumer-oriented repackaging of XP plus Service Pack 2 (SP2), a new Windows Media Player (WMP) version, and other "fun" features, XP Reloaded doesn't sound much like D2 to me, at least not right now. But I can see Microsoft morphing the professional edition of XP Reloaded into the D2 release that was described to me, so you never know. I've asked Microsoft to clarify the XP Reloaded feature set, but currently, the company wants to focus on its security-oriented XP SP2 release, which will ship by mid-2004. That focus makes sense: In addition to making XP more secure in an abstract sense, Microsoft also wants to ensure that as many customers as possible move to SP2, and it's going to expend a lot of time and marketing muscle to make sure that happens. News of an interim XP release will only muddle customers' decision-making process.

All these updates might make you think that the next Windows release--code-named Longhorn--will be delayed even further. Well, you're right: Recently, Microsoft representatives admitted that XP SP2 (and, to a lesser extent, R2) have pulled people away from active Longhorn work, and that Longhorn won't be on the fast track again until SP2. Microsoft sources tell me that the company hasn't developed a new Longhorn build since late last year and had instead told its various product groups to keep working on specific Longhorn technologies, while the wider Windows team rallied to get XP SP2 out the door. Indeed, XP SP2 was given such high priority that Todd Wanke, previously in charge of the Windows 2003 War Room, was put in charge of XP SP2. I expect this change will result in a high-quality release, based on my previous experience with Wanke (for more details, see "Windows Server 2003: The Road To Gold Part Two: Developing Windows" on the SuperSite for Windows at ).
For Longhorn, this XP focus means the potential release date just keeps slipping further and further into the future. I won't hazard a guess about the final release date, but if Microsoft makes the beta 1 milestone by the end of this summer, I'll be surprised. On the record, the company has promised only beta 1 this year and beta 2 sometime in 2005. But off the record, I've heard that Longhorn, unlike most previous Windows betas, will include several beta releases. Where that places the final release is, of course, unknown, and your guess is as good as mine.

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==== Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

US Patent Office Rejects Eolas Browser Patent
In a decision that has sweeping ramifications for the computer industry, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) preliminarily rejected Eolas Technologies' controversial Web browser add-on patent, setting the stage for a reversal of the company's $521 million award in its legal case against Microsoft. On the strength of its now-rejected patent, Eolas had sued Microsoft, accusing the software giant of infringing on Eolas's patented technologies when Microsoft added plug-in capabilities to Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). Eolas allegedly had planned to sue other browser makers if its lawsuit against Microsoft concluded positively. For the complete story, visit the following URL:

==== Networking Perspectives ====
by Alan Sugano, [email protected]

Exchange 2000 Server 7031 Errors
My consulting company received a call from a client whose email system was down. Although users could access their Inboxes, they couldn't send or receive any mail. The client was running Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server on Windows 2000. I hoped that a simple reboot would fix the problem, but the email system didn't come back up after I restarted the server. A quick look at the Event Viewer showed multiple 7031 errors stating that services had terminated unexpectedly. Read more about this client's problem and how we fixed it at the following URL:

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==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Mobile Device OS Support
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Which mobile device OS does your company support?" Here are the results from the 246 votes:
- 25% Microsoft Windows Mobile (e.g., Pocket PC, Windows Smartphone)
- 21% PalmOS (e.g., Palm, Handspring, Sony CLIE)
- 22% Research In Motion's BlackBerry
- 12% All of the above
- 20% None of the above

New Instant Poll: Mobile Device Support
The next Instant Poll question is, "Are mobile devices (Pocket PC, Palm, Research In Motion's BlackBerry) permitted at your company?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, the company provides mobile devices to employees, b) Yes, but our IT department provides no support for mobile devices, or c) Mobile devices aren't permitted on the premises.

==== Resources ====

Tip: What are the Windows Server 2003 domain modes?
by John Savill,

Windows 2000 offers two domain modes: mixed and native. Windows 2003 expands on these modes so that you can access features available only in the new OS. The domain modes available in Windows 2003 are
- Windows 2000 Mixed--In this default mode, a domain can have Windows NT 4.0 and later domain controllers (DCs).
- Windows 2000 Native--In this mode, a domain can support only Win2K and later DCs. This mode provides additional functionality, including nesting groups, universal groups, and support for SID history and group conversions. You must manually switch modes to upgrade to Windows 2000 Native mode.
- Windows 2003 Interim--In this mode, a domain can support only Windows 2003 and NT 4.0 DCs. This mode doesn't add any extra functionality. You set this mode when you use Dcpromo during an NT 4.0 PDC upgrade.
- Windows 2003--In this mode, a domain can support only Windows 2003 DCs. This mode has additional functionality over Windows 2000 Native mode, including the ability to rename DCs, add a password on InetOrgPerson objects, redirect the default Users and Computers container, and maintain a last logon timestamp attribute. You must manually switch modes to upgrade to Windows 2003 mode.

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==== New and Improved ====
by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Incorporate Smart Cards Into Your Identity-Management Strategy
Alacris released Alacris idNexus 2.0 for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. The software combines smart card and digital certificate management in one product that integrates with Active Directory (AD) and Windows 2003 Certificate Services. Features include the ability to deploy and manage certificate-based smart cards by using just one application, smart card deployment options that adapt to an organization's identity-management requirements, and PINs. For pricing, contact Alacris at [email protected]

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