Tech Tidbits: November 2007

I'm in Redmond for a Microsoft Windows Server 2008 reviewers' workshop this week, a lengthy event that should have me in an information overload-induced coma by Wednesday. Before that can happen, however, here are some interesting IT news tidbits.

Windows SharePoint Services Separated from Windows Server 2008
In what is becoming a tradition, Microsoft last week announced that it would separate Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 from Windows 2008, beginning with a Release Candidate 1 (RC1) version that's due later this month. More important, perhaps, WSS 3.0 will be delivered as a free Web download and will not ship integrated into Windows 2008. (Microsoft performed the same surgery with the previous WSS version and Windows 2003 R2.)

Separating WSS 3.0 from Windows does offer some benefits, especially if Microsoft continues offering the technology for free, which seems to be the plan. First, it will no longer be tied to only the very latest Windows Server version, opening it up to a much wider audience. And because it's not part of the mammoth Windows Server development process, users won't have to wait several years for the next major update. On the flipside, inclusion in the OS tends to drive adoption: Microsoft hasn't had a lot of success getting Windows Server customers to download out-of-band updates from the Web thus far.

PowerShell 2.0 on the Way
Although the original release of the Microsoft .NET-based PowerShell command-line and scripting environment took several years to come to market, the company is clearly moving at a faster pace with the next version. This week, the Microsoft PowerShell team announced that it would soon ship a pre-beta community technical preview (CTP) version of PowerShell 2.0, giving administrators and developers a chance to provide feedback at a very early time in the product's life cycle. The PowerShell 2.0 CTP will ship next week. For more information, stay tuned to the PowerShell blog:

Windows 2008 Might Require Some Other Upgrades
Now that Windows 2008 has been around in stable pre-release form for some time, the analysts are starting to opine on the new system. Usually, I find these kinds of opinions, well, quaint, but this time they seem to get it. Analysts from Gartner noted this week that the move from Windows Server 2003 to Windows 2008 wouldn't be as traumatic for enterprises as was the move from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, which remains the bellwether of difficult server upgrades.

Gartner feels that the biggest concern facing those moving to Windows 2008 will be the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit environments, though of course many Windows 2008 installations will likely be of the 32-bit variety, regardless of the underlying hardware. Fair enough, although I suspect the server world will move to 64-bit systems far more quickly than will happen on the desktop.

The big news with Windows 2008, however, is that some new features will require client upgrades. For example, to take advantage of Network Access Protection (NAP), environments will need to upgrade their clients to Windows Vista. This isn't strictly true, as it turns out: Microsoft is also building NAP support into Windows XP SP3, which will ship by mid-2008. So enterprises that want to use NAP but remain with XP can do so, with the understanding that they're still facing a major upgrade that will need to be tested first. No word yet on when Microsoft plans to ship a public beta of XP SP3.

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