Microsoft will announce Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) Release Candidate 1 (RC1) Wednesday, the company told me, and will issue the milestone to beta testers on Thursday. Win.NET Server is the oft-delayed follow-up to Windows 2000 Server and the server companion to Windows XP, which shipped last fall. Microsoft says it expects to ship Win.NET Server by the end of the year and deliver it to customers in early 2003.
"Windows .NET Server is a bloody good Windows 2000 version," said Cliff Reeves, Microsoft's vice president of Product Management for Windows .NET Server, at a recent reviewers' workshop for the product. "That's the basic Zen of what it is. It's all the things we learned, all the ideas encapsulated in a whole series of improvements. It's more secure, more manageable, more performance, more scalable."
Microsoft tells me that the RC1 release is virtually feature complete, although a few features will be added between now and RC2, which is due in a few months. Win.NET Server includes technology to accelerate server and Active Directory (AD) deployments; dramatically improved migration tools (especially for NT upgraders); a best-of-breed application server; a new Group Policy Management Console; improved file and print services; task- and role-based management tools; numerous security improvements, including various feature lock-downs; dramatic performance improvements when compared to Win2K Server on the same hardware; a Volume Shadow Copies feature that stores file snapshots; and enhancements to every subsystem imaginable, including Windows Media Services (WMS), Microsoft IIS, and Windows Terminal Services.
I'll have two Win.NET Server RC1 reviews available soon on the SuperSite for Windows. My first review, which will appear tomorrow, will feature a lengthy overview of the product, discussing the many changes customers can expect in this release. The second review, available in a few weeks, will be a hands-on examination of the final RC1 code.