Several sources have now confirmed what was once an unconfirmed rumor: Microsoft has decided to change the name of Windows .NET Server 2003 once again--this time to Windows Server 2003. The renaming is the fourth name change this product has endured since it went by its beta moniker of Whistler Server.
Microsoft originally planned to call the Windows 2002 Server product Windows Server 2002, a name Group Vice President Jim Allchin allegedly disliked. When Microsoft announced the name in early 2002, he said that "the fat lady hasn't sung yet." Weeks later, Microsoft announced the product's first name change--to Windows .NET Server. The idea was that this product would be the first to incorporate Microsoft .NET as a core component, so its name should reflect that fact.
In late 2002, the company changed the product name yet again--to Windows .NET Server 2003. Microsoft told me at the time that adding 2003 to the name would help customers understand that this version was a successor to Windows 2000 and that, yes, this name was the product's final name. Then, earlier this week, I heard the first murmurs about yet another name change. After checking with sources, I can confirm that Microsoft will change the name again--to Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft hasn't yet briefed me about this name change. But apparently the company has kept the name change quiet because it's trying to downplay dropping the .NET moniker. Microsoft is still struggling to get the .NET initiative off the ground, but dropping the .NET name from its next Windows Server product apparently doesn't represent any change in plans for that technology or its importance to the company.