Microsoft has published a list of 14 server applications that are incompatible to various degrees with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), confirming fears that the low-level security changes in Windows 2003 SP1 might cause problems. Most surprising: Many of the affected applications are from Microsoft.
In the Microsoft article, "Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 application compatibility" ( http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=896367 ), Microsoft describes the server applications it tested, then lists the ones that have incompatibility problems under SP1. Among the applications that have problems are Microsoft Application Center 2000 SP2, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft ISA Server 2004 Standard Edition, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 1.2.1, and Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003.
Those are some high-profile server applications. However, in the article, each of the problematic applications is accompanied by a link to a fix (as in the case of Exchange 2003), a workaround, or a link to a third-party Web site where, presumably, a fix will soon be available. Definitely check out the list before you install SP1 in a production environment.
Windows 2003 x64 Editions: Now Available
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced that the company is now shipping the x64 editions of Windows 2003, which run on 64-bit Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron hardware. Although I'm unaware of any compatibility lists like the one Microsoft made available for Windows 2003 SP1, I expect there will be many problems. First, the Windows 2003 x64 editions are based on the SP1 codebase, so they'll likely suffer from many of the same problems that SP1 does. But because of differences related to the x64 codebase, other incompatibilities could arise, so test carefully.
Of course, the big issue for x64, in general, is driver support. Although a lack of drivers is less problematic for servers than for clients, it's still a concern. Microsoft told me this week that it expects the x64 platform to replace x86 as the mainstream computing platform by the end of this year (an opinion I share and wrote about in "x64: The Future of Mainstream Enterprise Computing" at http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/45958/45958.html ). That said, there will still be growing pains. Proceed slowly.
Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta
Microsoft has shipped a beta version of Virtual Server 2005 SP1, which wouldn't typically warrant much attention. However, Microsoft unexpectedly announced that it would finally add support for Linux virtual machines (VMs), answering a frequent customer request. Virtual Server 2005 SP1 also provides support for x64-based host servers (not VMs) and includes various performance enhancements. It's a bit early to roll out Virtual Server 2005 SP1, but if you're interested in evaluating it, sign up for the beta release on the Microsoft Web site.
I'm in Seattle this week for the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2005, at which Microsoft will publicly reveal a slew of new information about Longhorn, its oft-delayed next-generation Windows version. I'll report on any relevant Longhorn features in next week's Windows IT Pro UPDATE.