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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, December 6, 2004

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In the News

- Intel Preps Processor Extensions to Coincide with Longhorn Release
- Microsoft Extends Olive Branch to Corporate Windows NT 4.0 Users
- Microsoft Issues Second SQL Server 2005 Public Beta

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Intel Preps Processor Extensions to Coincide with Longhorn Release

Microprocessor giant Intel briefed reporters last week about plans to evolve its x86 products in a direction that more closely matches that of the software industry. In addition to a suite of chips designed for the enterprise market, Intel will also ship so-called designer processors that will feature new technology extensions that take advantage of the unique features in Longhorn, the next major version of Windows.
A set of product extensions, code-named the T family, will pair Intel's HyperThreading (HT) technology with the company's x64-compatible 64-bit extensions, which the company calls Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T). Intel will apply these extensions to a generation of desktop chips that the company will begin selling in 2005; today, the EM64T technology is available only in certain high-end Xeon and Pentium 4 designs.
In 2006, Intel will augment its chips with two further extensions code-named LaGrande Technology (LT) and Vanderpool Technology/Silverdale Technology (VT/ST). LT focuses on security, whereas VT/ST provides virtualization features. Intel says it will release both extensions to coincide with Longhorn's release in mid-2006.
"LT creates a hardware foundation on the client PC platform that can help protect the confidentiality and integrity of data stored or created from software based attacks," a document on Intel's Web site explains. "It does this by enabling an environment where applications can run within their own space, protected from all other software on the system. In turn, this can help to protect vital data and processes from being compromised by malicious software running on the platform."
The VT/ST technology appears to be a next-generation version of HT that further subdivides the processing power of one microprocessor into multiple chunks that can be accessed independently, as if they were individual processors. The idea is that one chip with dual cores can function as the center of a digital home, providing processing services to multiple connected services and devices.

Microsoft Extends Olive Branch to Corporate Windows NT 4.0 Users

Although the oft-delayed end of support for Windows NT 4.0 will arrive December 31, this week Microsoft detailed the steps its corporate customers can take to continue receiving support for the OS. The steps include changes to Microsoft's Custom Support Agreement, which now adds an additional year of NT 4.0 custom support, extending it from the original deadline to December 31, 2006.
"We are trying to provide our customers maximum flexibility as they plan and complete their migration \[from NT 4.0 to a newer Windows Server version\]," Peter Houston, senior director of Windows Serviceability, said. "By running the offering until the end of 2006, we are providing enterprise customers a full 10 years of service on Windows NT 4.0 Servers. This mirrors the standard for the '5+5' lifecycle support policy that we announced in May." Microsoft first released NT 4.0 in July 1996; Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server on the server side and Windows XP on the desktop have since superseded the OS.
Microsoft also changed its Custom Support Agreement to give NT 4.0 users custom support that covers fixes to vulnerabilities that are rated as important and critical. Previously, Microsoft planned to fix only critical vulnerabilities. Customers who want to receive support for these fixes can now subscribe to the custom support offering for 3-month periods; previously, they had to subscribe for 6 months.
None of these changes extend support for NT 4.0 beyond Microsoft's 5+5 product lifecycle policy, but they do make NT 4.0 better conform to that policy and give customers easier migration options. Microsoft also said that Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5, which will begin its last year of extended support in 2005, will follow a custom support lifecycle that mirrors that of NT 4.0.

Microsoft Issues Second SQL Server 2005 Public Beta

On Friday, Microsoft issued its second Community Technology Preview (CTP) release of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and gave public testers a new beta release--SQL Server 2005 Express Manager, a new, free database-management tool. The SQL Server 2005 CTP is available to all Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and Microsoft BetaPlace subscribers, the company says.
"We're encouraged by the success of the CTP program for SQL Server 2005," Microsoft Senior Vice President Paul Flessner, who oversees the SQL Server business, said. "The response has been impressive, and we are excited to be able to offer another update to our customers. We're seeing that more and more people are moving to SQL Server because of its low cost, enterprise data-management capabilities, and integrated business intelligence (BI). We're confident that programs like the CTP will help us build a better product and encourage other customers to make the switch to SQL Server."
The second SQL Server 2005 CTP is an interim build of Microsoft's next-generation database server product. New features include 64-bit versions of the SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2005 Integration Services technologies, which build on the 64-bit support that Microsoft previously added to the core database engine. SQL Server 2005 Express Manager is vastly simpler than the SQL Enterprise Manager that Microsoft provided with earlier versions of SQL Server and is built on Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. You can use it to manage SQL Server 2000, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) 2000, and SQL Server 2005 Developer and Express Editions databases on local and remote computers, according to Microsoft. In addition to MSDN and BetaPlace, you can download the SQL Server 2005 Express Manager CTP directly from the Microsoft Web site (see the URL below).

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