Muglia keynote highlights server & dev plans for 2000

Microsoft group vice president Bob Muglia gave the second TechEd keynote address Tuesday, focusing on the company's plans to extend Windows 2000 this year with a bevy of new server products. Muglia said that Microsoft has sold 1.5 million copies of Windows 2000 Server since the February launch and that the industry was "riding the Windows 2000 wave" with 8500 shipping applications and the lowest support volume in the history of Windows. Muglia touted Microsoft's Web application server benchmarks, which place Windows 2000 well ahead of any UNIX platform, with almost eight times the performance. But the big news was the company's plans to release seven new server products this year to complement Windows 2000.

First up is Exchange Server 2000, which is currently in Release Candidate 2 (RC2) and due to ship soon. "It's nearing production release," Muglia noted, explaining that this release would leverage Windows 2000 and Active Directory. "Exchange 2000's revolutionary Web store is a native Windows 2000 file system, so the file system APIs will work natively against it." SQL Server 2000 is a smaller upgrade from the well-received SQL Server 7.0, but it includes a number of new features to set it apart from its predecessor, such as full XML support and incredible new scaling capabilities. And Microsoft continues to tout its recent SQL benchmark wins over far more expensive alternatives from Oracle and various UNIX vendors. "With Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000, we've broken through the barrier and blown away the \[previous SQL benchmarks\]," Muglia said. "SQL Server 2000 can be used to build solutions for the most demanding Internet applications."

Also new is Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, an Internet firewall and caching product that essentially replaces Proxy Server. ISA Server provides security, performance, and manageability enhancements for Windows 2000-based networks that need to share an Internet connection to the outside world. It supplies packet, circuit, and application-level filtering with an integrated intrusion detection technology that's designed to prevent the most common forms of network attacks. If you're interested in ISA Server, you can download a beta version now from the ISA Server Web site. Meanwhile, BizTalk Server 2000 will provide a number of tools for integrating various types of data over intranets and the Internet. Essentially a friendly front-end to XML-based data transformations, BizTalk Server makes visual management of heterogeneous data simpler.

But Muglia's most interesting revelation concerned a new version of the "Digital Dashboard" client development tool, which had previously been made available in a limited first generation edition. The new Digital Dashboard, however, is a vast improvement over the original, allowing developers to create "Web Parts" that can be mixed and matched to create powerful portal front-ends for Internet Explorer 5.x or Outlook 2000. Using XML on the back-end, Web Parts are presented as drag and drop-capable components that users can manipulate to modify Web portals and Outlook Today screens. And while the original Digital Dashboard made promises about these capabilities, the new version seems to deliver on those promises, though it essentially requires Windows 2000, Outlook 2000, and NTFS 5.0 to operate efficiently. Developers that are interested in the new Digital Dashboard can download the Digital Dashboard Resource Kit 2.0, which includes sample dashboards, a Web Part Builder add-in for Visual InterDev, a variety of other tools and a Web Part gallery. For more information, please visit the Microsoft Web site

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