On Friday, Microsoft alerted me to sweeping changes in the Windows Server roadmap, an update of sorts to the information that Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia gave me during an interview in May. Under the new schedule, Microsoft will deliver a host of server-related technologies over a long period of time, with the first deliverables shipping in early 2005. But the most notable news is that WinFS, the long-awaited storage engine originally scheduled for release with Longhorn, will no longer be included with either Longhorn or Longhorn Server, the latter of which is due in 2007.
At the earliest, WinFS will ship as part of Longhorn Release 2 (R2), the client-side follow-up to Longhorn that Microsoft plans to release in 2008. WinFS is arguably more important to the server than the client, however, and Longhorn Server R2 isn't due until 2009. The next major Windows Server release after that, code-named Blackcomb, is scheduled for a 2011 release.
Bristling at criticism that Longhorn can now more accurately be called Shorthorn because of the many features that Microsoft has culled from the release or has made available to the Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP products, Microsoft executives note that they haven't yet discussed many of Longhorn's features. Longhorn, they say, will still be a revolutionary release, with features such as a fresh UI, great roaming support, Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, new browsing capabilities, improved migration and deployment functionality, integrated antimalware technology, and a new digital photo experience.
Under the new schedule, Microsoft will release several key products in 2005, the first of which will include Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and several other releases based on SP1, including the Windows 2003 x64 editions and Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 SP1. Also due in the first half of 2005 are Windows Update Services (WUS), a beta release of Windows 2003 Compute Cluster Edition, and Windows 2003 R2 Beta 2. In the second half of 2005, Microsoft will ship Windows 2003 R2, SBS R2, Windows Storage Server R2, the first beta of Longhorn Server, and Windows 2003 Compute Cluster Edition. 2005 will also see the release of numerous related products, including Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft System Center 2005, and new versions of Microsoft BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server (HIS), and Commerce Server.
Windows 2003 R2 will include new branch server deployment and management features, Active Directory (AD) federation functionality (code-named Trustbridge), simpler Storage Area Network (SAN) management, and integration with many of the feature packs that Microsoft released separately for Windows 2003. R2 is due in October 2005, Microsoft says.
Microsoft will add a several new features to Longhorn Server, including centralized and filtered event logging, image-based setup and deployment, a manageable and scalable Web application platform, increased infrastructure robustness, Network Access Protection (NAP--originally scheduled for R2), reduced reboots, a smaller server footprint, transactional file system and registry, enhanced end user productivity, enhanced Terminal Server management and usability (also originally scheduled for R2), sophisticated collaboration functionality, and easy cross-organizational rights management.