is giving customers an advance view of
its new work group server, code-named Longhorn.
The company hopes to generate a lot of positive buzz on message boards and
demonstrate that the product’s vaunted security functions can stand up to the scrutiny of hackers.
Longhorn will come loaded with Windows PowerShell, which helps simplify
administration tasks via improved event logging, task scheduling and remote
It also includes improvements to Active Directory Federation
Services, which makes it easier to implement new policies and make it easier
to set up relationships with trusted partners.
The new server also features easier failover clustering, dynamic
partitioning and auto-tuning networking features to help customers manage
system resources and ensure that users have uninterrupted access to their company networks.
Customers also have the option to install Server Core, which helps reduce
the server footprint and the potential attack surface of the network.
Virtualization, however, is one feature that Microsoft will not include with
Longhorn when it ships, as reported
by internetnews.com earlier this month.
Given the company’s release schedule — it plans to ship during the second half of
the year — the evaluation period is a chance for Microsoft to
receive and react to feedback in time for the new product’s release to
Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server Division at Microsoft,
urged customers to take advantage of the testing period. “If there’s one
message we want to send today, it is get read, download and evaluate,” he
said in a statement.
Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio said the beta period will be critical in determining the server’s
“The first thing people start talking about [on message boards] is all the
flaws… We should know within the next few days if there are any major
flaws in Longhorn, how easy it is to use. Word of mouth is going to be very
important,” she said.
Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of Longhorn, as the Windows
division represents 25 percent of the company’s revenues, DiDio said.
In a sense, Microsoft may be a victim of its own success if Longhorn fails
to take off as quickly as hoped.
Windows Server 2003 “is still a pretty good
operating system, because Microsoft has been responding to customer demand
for more security, more scalability, more granular management capabilities.
Longhorn just takes it to the next level,” DiDio told
However, considering that Longhorn mostly offers incremental enhancements to Windows Server
2003, even customers who decide to upgrade may decide to wait 18 months or
more, she said.