At the Networld+Interop (N+I) 2002 conference this week in Las Vegas, Microsoft executives gathered to discuss the final development stage for the company's upcoming Windows .NET Server family of products. The family will include Win.NET Web Server, Standard Server, Enterprise Server, and Datacenter Server Editions when Microsoft releases it to manufacturing late this year. I spoke with Bob O'Brien, group product manager for Windows .NET Server, about some of the changes customers can expect in this release.
"First of all, I want to reiterate that we are on track to deliver \[Win.NET Server\] by the end of the calendar year," O'Brien said, referring to a previous mistaken disclosure that the product had slipped to early 2003. O'Brien noted that Win.NET Server is focused on three themes: abilities, getting connected, and productivity.
"Customers expect and are pleased with the dependability, reliability, and scalability we're delivering with the Windows Server products," O'Brien said. "We've set world records for performance and are now delivering products that are secured by default. Customers can turn on the functionality that they want after making a clear, conscious decision to do so." O'Brien pointed to Win.NET Server's locked-down version of Microsoft IIS as an example of this new approach.
Companies as diverse as JetBlue Airways and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are using Win.NET Server to stay connected with their customers internally and externally. "Krispy Kreme is already running on Win.Net Server and IIS 6.0 today," O'Brien said. "They're building a franchise system so that franchisees can access a secure network and report in with financials, advertising, and more--all over the Web. The vision is to build that network around Web services in the near future."
Win.NET Server will provide easy ways for customers to use Web services, media services, and other built-in capabilities to build richer client applications for a variety of uses, including Help desk and call center applications. Customers can use Visual Studio .NET (released earlier this year) to create the rich client applications that they'll deploy on Win.NET Server.
Unlike the jump from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, the Win.NET Server upgrade is evolutionary, not revolutionary. With this release, Microsoft has fine-tuned the product, added features that customers requested, and provided simplification tools, such as wizards and best-practices overviews.
In addition to the 32-bit Win.NET Server products, Microsoft announced this week that it will support Intel's upcoming 64-bit Itanium 2 microprocessor with Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition 1.2. "The Itanium provides a 150 percent performance improvement over the \[original\] Itanium," O'Brien said.
Win.NET Server will also ship in an embedded version and as part of Small Business Server 2003, an integrated suite of server applications aimed at small businesses. The Win.NET Server family will reach the release candidate (RC) phase early this summer, Microsoft says. Microsoft will release the product family to manufacturing in late 2002, and customers will be able to purchase the products in early 2003.