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April 25, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Win.NET Server Slips Again—to Mid-2003. Whither comes Longhorn?
- AMD Drops the Hammer on Opteron Processor
- Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Gates Survives Third Day on Stand
- Microsoft ASP.NET Connections & Win-Dev to Colocate Conferences
- Cast Your Vote for our Reader's Choice Awards!
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
According to an InfoWorld report, Microsoft has delayed the release of Windows .NET Server, the server family of products that was supposed to have accompanied Windows XP, until mid-2003. The delay is the most recent of several for the product, which Microsoft originally planned to ship before the end of 2001. The release has been a moving target: Microsoft has said, at various times, that Win.NET Server would ship in early 2002, during the first half of 2002, in the second half of 2002, and in early 2003.
"(Mid-2003) is the target, but as always security will drive the final decision," Enrique Murray, Microsoft's Latin America marketing manager, told InfoWorld. "We have security as the number-one priority, so that \[release\] date is totally security driven. We've established security checks all along the way."
Win.NET Server is a comprehensive product family that includes Win.NET Web Server, Win.NET Standard Server (formerly Windows 2000 Server), Win.NET Enterprise Server, Win.NET Datacenter Server (formerly Win2K Datacenter Server), and embedded editions, as well as an integrated suite called Small Business Server 2003 that's geared to small businesses. Because of constant delays, Microsoft has routinely updated the Win.NET Server roadmap; beta testers recently received a second post-beta 3 build, although the timing of the first release candidate (RC) build, originally scheduled for early summer, is suddenly up in the air.
Arguably, few enterprise customers will complain if Microsoft decides to take its time delivering a server product. But the constant delays have forced the company to push back its Longhorn project several times, and the impact of that delay will be far-reaching because Longhorn will include desktop versions analogous to XP Home and Professional Editions, in addition to server upgrades to Win.NET Server. So far the company has been able to maintain its yearly desktop OS upgrade cycle, which started in 1995. This year, a service pack release, XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), will fill the yearly upgrade role. But the gap between XP SP1 and Longhorn is growing daily, leading to speculation that Microsoft will create an XP Second Edition (SE) product so that the company can have a new desktop OS available for the holiday 2003 PC-buying season.
Another option would be to simply cancel the current Win.NET Server version and roll that product's feature set into Longhorn server or downloadable upgrades to Win2K Server, the current product family. Before this most recent Win.NET Server delay, Microsoft said that the Longhorn products—desktop and server—would ship by late 2004. Whether that's still the case is unclear.
AMD announced today that its 32/64-bit processor (code-named Sledgehammer) will go on sale as the AMD Opteron early next year. Unlike Intel's 64-bit offering, the Itanium, the AMD Opteron offers 100 percent backwards compatibility with today's 32-bit x86 processors and is an extension of AMD's Athlon chips, rather than a whole new platform. AMD also announced that it will drop its low-end Duron chips by early 2003.
"The AMD Opteron processor is designed to deliver high-performance server and workstation solutions for today's demanding enterprise applications, delivering scalability, reliability, and compatibility," the company told Windows & .NET Magazine in a pre-announcement briefing last week at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2002. "The AMD Opteron processor can run 32-bit applications natively while allowing a seamless transition path through 64-bit extensions, as customers require."
The biggest news from AMD, however, concerned Microsoft support. Rather than create separate 64-bit Windows releases for the Opteron (as some people had speculated), Microsoft will support the AMD Opteron's x86-64 extensions in its 32-bit Windows OSs, including Windows .NET Server and the next version of Windows XP. AMD didn't explain how or when Microsoft will release this support, but said that Microsoft and AMD would discuss Opteron/Windows compatibility at a later date.
The Opteron eventually will be available in configurations of as many as eight processors, dramatically expanding AMD's scalability compared to its current-generation Athlon processors. AMD expects to ship the Opteron in the first half of 2003, although a single-processor variant, partially based on the current-generation Athlon, will ship later this year.
On his third and final day under cross-examination during his company's antitrust remedy hearings, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates was confronted by what is, perhaps, the nonsettling states' and District of Columbia's most compelling bit of evidence: a modular, component-based Windows XP version that Microsoft made and yet contends is impossible to make. The XP version—dubbed Windows XP Embedded—is designed for use in connected devices such as cash registers, ATM machines, and Web pads, but embedded developers could theoretically build it for and install it on a typical PC. The differences between XP Embedded and the desktop XP versions—XP Home Edition and XP Professional Edition—are fairly technical, however. Microsoft says that XP Embedded is designed as a built-to-order OS for a specific device and never changes, whereas desktop Windows versions change when manufacturers install applications and updates. However, the very existence of XP Embedded makes Microsoft's argument against the viability of a modular Windows somewhat specious because Microsoft created the product by modularizing the desktop XP code base, a process that Microsoft contends is either impossible or would render the OS unusable.
During cross-examination yesterday, a lawyer for the nonsettling states confronted Gates with this contradiction. "So, you can build an \[OS\] that can run on a PC and support virtually all the applications currently supported by a PC running XP at home?" attorney Steven Kuney asked Gates.
"Yes and no," Gates replied. "You wouldn't be able to go and take an application and install it and have it run \[after the fact\]." In his written deposition, Gates said that XP Embedded isn't a general-purpose OS but rather is designed to run on single-purpose devices. Kuney asked him about this statement, wondering whether a developer could build an XP Embedded version for a PC that ran Microsoft Office applications.
"Technically, you could," Gates admitted. The only missing piece, interestingly, is the application-installer routine from the XP desktop versions, a fairly trivial piece of code compared to the rest of the OS.
XP Embedded might well be the linchpin of the nonsettling states' case against Microsoft. The company has repeatedly complained that a modularized Windows version is impossible because of interdependencies between components, such as the Windows Media Player (WMP) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), and Windows. Yet Microsoft designed XP Embedded so that WMP and IE are optional: Developers can build versions of XP Embedded that don't include either component, or they can add one or both components. The states are asking that Microsoft also give consumers and PC makers this choice. At one point, Kuney showed the judge an XP Embedded licensing restriction that forbids developers from creating versions of the OS that run on PCs, despite the fact that they could easily create such a product otherwise.
Despite the controversial topic and Kuney's often-successful attempts to show that Gates' "Chicken Little" defense is exaggerated or hyperbolic, Gates remained calm on his third day in court. As the day ended, he made a short statement outside the courthouse. "I'm glad I had an opportunity to come and share my story with the court," Gates told a throng of reporters. "Microsoft has been working hard to resolve the issues in this case."
Microsoft ASP.NET Connections, VB Connections, and Win-Dev are colocating their events to deliver the largest independent .NET developer-focused event in 2002. You can get more than 145 sessions covering Web development, XML and data management, .NET Framework internals, .NET Web security, Visual Basic 6.0, C++, C#, and more. Register today before this event sells out!
Which companies and products do you think are the best on the market? Nominate your favorites in four different categories for our annual Windows & .NET Magazine Reader's Choice Awards. You could win a T-shirt or a free Windows & .NET Magazine Super CD, just for submitting your ballot. Click here!
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