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What to Expect from Microsoft in 2005

Although the New Year is typically a time of reflection, I thought it might be nice to leave behind the security hole-ridden past of 2004 and look ahead to 2005, which I believe will prove to be a transitional year for Microsoft. That's because Microsoft was preoccupied with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) in 2004 and now has a number of delayed projects to ship. Then in 2006, the company will be concentrating on the Longhorn wave of products. So this week, I provide a brief rundown of some important products Microsoft will ship in 2005.

64-Bit Products
In 2005, Microsoft will ship x64 (AMD64 and Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology--EM64T)-compatible versions of Microsoft Biztalk Server, Commerce Server, SQL Server 2005, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP Professional Edition. So right out of the gate, x64 will be a more viable platform than Intel's struggling Itanium. Credit Microsoft's embrace of x64 technology to Windows NT architect David Cutler, who early on realized the architectural and real-world benefits of a 64-bit version of the x86 platform. It's only a matter of time before x64 achieves the scale-up and scale-out prowess it needs to make the Itanium obsolete. A lot of information about Microsoft's x64 products is available, and more will come. Check out the following article about Windows 2003 x64 Edition and XP Pro x64 Edition.

Exchange 2003 SP2
I discussed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) last week (see the URL below), but this release will include some of the features Microsoft originally planned for the now-canceled Exchange Edge Services product as well as a new version of the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter (IMF) spam filter.

Longhorn and Longhorn Server Betas
Although both the client and server versions of Longhorn (the next Windows release) will finally ship in beta 1 form in 2005, Longhorn client will ship in 2006, and Longhorn Server is due in early 2007. Microsoft has scaled back Longhorn dramatically since Microsoft originally started discussing the project publicly in late 2003, but I still expect it to be a major and compelling release.

Microsoft Antispyware
The public beta version of Microsoft's client-side antispyware product will ship on Thursday, but the big news this year will be the corporate version, which should ship by the end of 2005. Both the client and server versions of this product are based on technology that Microsoft recently acquired from GIANT Company Software. You can find the background story behind this company and its technology in my "Microsoft Anti-Spyware Preview" on the SuperSite for Windows.

Microsoft's curious decision to ship a separate disk-based backup and recovery server product rather than roll out that technology as a free add-on for Windows 2003 led to the development of Microsoft Data Protection Server (DPS), which will likely ship in early 2005. DPS leverages several Windows 2003 storage technologies, including Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). See the following URL for more information about DPS:

Microsoft Update
I first wrote about Microsoft Update in mid-2003 (see the URL below), and the only thing that's changed since then is the delivery timeline. Now due in mid-2005, Microsoft Update will be based on the company's new software update back end and will replace Windows Update. Microsoft Update will update all currently supported Microsoft products--not just Windows.

SQL Server 2005
SQL Server 2005 will finally ship in 2005 and in many editions--from individual user versions to versions for the largest corporations. SQL Server 2005 includes a new management console that consolidates many of the previously separate management front ends, two-way Data Transformation Services (DTS) functionality, new programmability features, and a host of other features. A preview release of SQL Server 2005, dubbed the Community Technical Preview (CTP), is currently available for interested testers. For more information about SQL Server 2005, check out Brian Moran's article at the following URL:

System Center 2005
Microsoft System Center 2005 combines products such as Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 SP1, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, and a unique reporting tool, to finally offer Microsoft shops a one-stop solution for systems management. The new System Center Reporting Server analyzes the previously incompatible data back ends behind SMS and MOM and generates reports that include the operations information from MOM and the Change and Configuration Management (CCM) information from SMS.

Visual Studio 2005
Like SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 has been delayed several times, has picked up an amazing array of new functionality over time, and will ship in a dizzying array of product versions. Visual Studio 2005 aims to be all things to all developers, with better support for both novice programmers and teams of professional programmers working on enterprise-class services and applications. Visual Studio 2005 will ship alongside SQL Server 2005 and new versions of the Windows .NET Framework, ASP.NET, and other developer-oriented technologies.

Windows 2000 Update Rollup
In November 2004, Microsoft revealed that it was canceling plans for Windows 2000 Server SP5 and would instead release a so-called Update Rollup in its place. You can look at this Update Rollup as the official send-off for Win2K. It's clear that Microsoft wants its customers to update to new Windows versions. I covered the Update Rollup in Windows IT Pro UPDATE in late November.

Windows 2003 Server R2
Windows 2003 Release 2 (R2) is due in late 2005 and will be based on the Windows 2003 SP1 kernel and code base, ensuring compatibility with existing applications and services. R2 has been whittled down a lot and is now just a shadow of its former self. As with SP1's Security Configuration Wizard (SCW), R2's features are installed separately through the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet and include many of the Windows 2003 feature packs and various features for managing branch offices remotely.

Windows Mobile 2005 and ActiveSync 4.0
Microsoft will ship major new versions of Windows Mobile 2005, code-named Magneto, and Microsoft ActiveSync 4.0 in 2005. Windows Mobile 2005 will continue the enterprise focus of the two most recent releases and add important new features, such as a persistent data store, a cleaner looking UI, and new soft keys that replicate many commonly needed choices in pop-up menus. Microsoft will even dramatically update the Pocket Office applications in this release, which it hasn't done in several years.

Windows 2003 SP1 and SBS 2003 SP1
Although the details about Windows 2003 SP1 are well known (see the URL below for more Windows 2003 SP1 information), less is known about Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 SP1, which should ship soon after Windows 2003 SP1. I'm looking into what unique features SBS 2003 SP1 will offer, but my guess is that the release will be more than just SP1 on top of SBS.

Utilizing the same back end as Microsoft Update, Windows Update Services (WUS) is the successor to Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS) and will support patching various Windows versions, Microsoft Office 2003 and Office XP, Exchange 2003, SQL Server 2000, and Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE), as well as all IA-64 (Itanium) and x64 Microsoft products out of the box. In the future, WUS will support other products as well. WUS should ship soon and will likely be excellent.

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