Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--With Yukon Delay, Microsoft Product Roadmap Credibility Questions Emerge--March 16, 2004

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Commentary: With Yukon Delay, Microsoft Product Roadmap Credibility Questions Emerge

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==== Commentary: With Yukon Delay, Microsoft Product Roadmap Credibility Questions Emerge ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

I could make a career out of charting the purported release schedules for Microsoft products, assuming someone would be willing to pay me for it. Almost every week, we receive news about another Microsoft product delay. Charting the software giant's release schedules, however, isn't as simple as tacking a year onto Microsoft's first-stated release goal for any given product. And as its next-generation products slip further and further into the future, there are increasingly important repercussions, especially for enterprises that adopted Microsoft's Software Assurance (SA) licensing plans. This week, I present more information about Windows Server 2003 R2, the Windows Server release that will predate Longhorn, and examine how a recent delay in the shipment of Microsoft SQL Server Yukon and Visual Studio Whidbey puts Longhorn's release date in doubt--regardless of what Microsoft says--while putting SA customers up in arms.

More Details about Windows 2003 R2

Last week, I mentioned that Microsoft will ship an interim Windows Server version, currently dubbed R2, sometime between now and Longhorn. This week, I have a few more details about this product, courtesy of a source on the Windows Server team. If all goes according to schedule, R2 will ship in summer 2005 and will combine all the bug fixes and new features from Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), including the excellent roles-based Security Configuration Wizard, with many of the out-of-band (OOB) or feature pack updates that the company has released since April. These updates include a new Windows TrustBridge-enabled version of Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server that will let enterprises share information with partners and customers, an integrated update to Windows Rights Management Services (RMS), and the Whidbey version of the Microsoft .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) execution environment. R2 will also include new, unique features, including branch-office management support. The company hasn't yet determined pricing, but Microsoft assured me that it won't force customers to pay new Client Access License (CAL) fees if they've already licensed Windows 2003. The product's final name and delivery vehicle are yet to be determined, meaning that Microsoft isn't sure how it will handle Windows 2003 upgrades. My guess is the upgrade will be free to existing Windows 2003 customers.

Yukon Wave Recedes to 2005

Last week, Microsoft dropped a bit of a bombshell when it began informing press, analysts, and customers that it would be delaying Yukon and Whidbey until the first half of 2005. Originally due in late 2003, these products constitute the so-called "Yukon wave" of products, which will arrive before the Longhorn wave of products, the latter of which will include new Windows client and server versions, a new Microsoft Office suite, a new Visual Studio (VS) release (code-named Orcas), a new MSN update, and other products. Microsoft delaying a product is nothing new, but this announcement was unexpected and is causing several concerns--chief among them are the effects the delay will have on SA customers and whether the delay will affect Longhorn's ever-lengthening release schedule.

On the licensing front, Microsoft has an emergency situation with which to deal. Customers who purchased expensive SA maintenance licenses were assured a year ago that their contracts would include a new SQL Server version. But now that the release has slipped yet again, Yukon is no longer covered under many existing SA agreements. That leaves customers with two lousy choices: They can simply resubscribe to SA at cost, or they can complain and hope Microsoft provides them with Yukon even after their licensing terms expire. For many customers, SA probably would have made more sense in the release mania of the late 1990s, but since then, Microsoft's product development cycle has lengthened considerably. Perhaps it's time for the SA program to more closely match this new schedule. Otherwise, companies will have no choice but to incur more fees while they evaluate new products and ensure they're ready for prime time.

Furthermore, critics are starting to describe the constant delays as a "credibility issue." What if Microsoft never meets whatever bars it sets for itself and continues to delay Yukon as it adds more and more features? At some point, customers might reasonably ask Microsoft whether the features the company is trying to roll out in that release will benefit them and, if not, ask the company to remove features and get Yukon back on track. It's a complicated bit of supposition, but what happens if Microsoft is only delaying Yukon because its platform-based technologies--the guts of the product that will eventually form the basis for the WinFS storage engine in Longhorn--aren't ready? Shouldn't that rankle its traditional database customers, who might be able to take advantage of Yukon's other features today? I think it should.

The delays also hit hard at the central Microsoft tenet of integration. Yukon integrates with and relies on Whidbey in the same ways that Whidbey integrates with and relies on Yukon. So it's likely neither product will ship a long time before the other. What happens when a product wave--like that of Longhorn--includes far more products, however? If Microsoft can't even keep the Yukon wave on track, how will the company handle the complexity of the Longhorn wave and its many intertwined products?

Microsoft says the Yukon delays won't affect the Longhorn schedule, but I don't believe it. Even a relatively small effort, such as the development of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), set back Longhorn for several months, and I'm told the Windows team hasn't built a single Longhorn build since late 2003. Given the companywide focus on these product waves and the fact that Microsoft doesn't want Longhorn to follow too closely behind Yukon, you can rest assured that we'll be lucky to see Longhorn happen in 2006.


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==== Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

EU Brands Microsoft an Abusive Monopolist, Sets Stage for Final Ruling
Representatives of the 15 nations that make up the European Union (EU) met during a closed-door session this morning and unanimously backed a European Commission draft ruling that brands Microsoft a monopolist that illegally abuses its market power on the continent. "The member states have unanimously backed the Commission's draft decision," a Commission spokesperson said. To read the rest of the story, visit the following URL:

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Results of Previous Poll: Mobile Device Support
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Are mobile devices (Pocket PC, Palm, RIM Blackberry) permitted at your company?" Here are the results from the 247 votes:
- 46% Yes, the company provides mobile devices to employees
- 47% Yes, but our IT department provides no support for mobile devices
- 6% Mobile devices aren't permitted on the premises

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The next Instant Poll question is, "If your company uses mobile devices, how are they procured?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Just like PCs, b) Purchased by individual employees and reimbursed by the company, or c) Purchased by individual employees but not reimbursed by the company.

==== Resources ====

Featured Thread: Event ID 4319
Forum member Zwick keeps getting an event ID 4319 error in his Windows Server 2003 Event Viewer. The message states, "A duplicate name has been detected on the TCP network. The IP address of the machine that sent the message is in the data. Use nbtstat -n in a command window to see which name is in the Conflict state." When he uses nbtstat -n in a command window, the status for everything is Registered. Why would he keep getting the error? If you can help, visit the following URL and join the discussion.

Tip: What are the Windows Server 2003 forest modes?
by John Savill,

Windows 2003 introduced a second incarnation of Active Directory (AD) that supports several forest modes, just as Windows 2000 supports several domain modes. To take advantage of some of these forest enhancements, your domains and domain controllers (DCs) must be running Windows 2003. The following forest modes are available:
- Windows 2000--In this mode, which is the default mode, a forest can have Windows NT DCs as well as Win2K and later DCs.
- Windows Server 2003 interim--In this mode, a forest can support only Windows 2003 and NT DCs. This mode provides additional functionality over the Windows 2000 mode, including linked value replication (LVR) support for more than 5000 users in a group; improved support for Intersite Topology Generator (ISTG), an automatically assigned DC responsible for creating the replication topology between locations; and support for additional Global Catalog (GC) attributes. You set this mode when you use Dcpromo to upgrade from NT 4.0 to Windows 2003.
- Windows Server 2003--In this mode, a forest can have only Windows 2003 DCs. This mode provides additional functionality over the Windows Server 2003 interim mode, including support for dynamically linked auxiliary classes for creating objects with an associated Time To Live (TTL) value and automatically removing those objects after the time has expired, the ability to convert User objects to inetOrgPerson (and vice versa), schema deactivation and reactivation, domain renaming, establishing forest trusts, basic- and query-based groups, and 15-second intrasite replication frequency. You must manually switch modes to upgrade to Windows Server 2003 mode.
To change the Windows 2003's forest mode, you must be an Enterprise Administrator. Migrating Win2K groups with more than 5000 users can often cause problems. If you're upgrading from NT 4.0 and you can't migrate to Windows Server 2003 interim mode during the upgrade (e.g., if you know you'll have Win2K DCs), you should divide groups that have more than 5000 users into multiple smaller groups (e.g., groupa-m and groupn-z) before you upgrade to Windows 2003. Also, before you upgrade the forest to Windows 2003, ensure that all domains are in at least Win2K native mode and contain only Windows 2003 DCs. Then, when you upgrade the forest to Windows 2003 forest level, all domains will automatically upgrade to Windows 2003 domain level.

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