Microsoft Monday wrapped up work on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 and said both the server and client software will be generally available within the next month.
Aligning the two has been a major effort within Microsoft as the pair combine to support important new corporate features for validating the health of PCs connecting to a network (Network Access Protection) and for streamlining Terminal Services functionality.
With NAP, Microsoft is expecting the technology to explode in the next year or two due to regulatory pressure on companies. Cisco is making similar bets with its version of the technology it calls Network Access Control (NAC). The two have been working on integrating their technologies.
Windows Server 2008, which has been five years in development, will be available to volume licensing customers Feb. 27, the day Microsoft is hosting a launch event in Los Angeles that also includes Visual Studio 2008 (shipped November 2007) and SQL Server 2008 (slated to ship before June 30, 2008). Versions of Windows Server 2008 will be available from OEMs in March, according to Microsoft.
Windows Server 2008 is focused on three primary areas: management, including Server Core; security, such as BitLocker drive encryption and read-only domain controllers; and performance, including a redesigned TCP/IP stack.
The server also represents the gateway into the world of 64-bit-only server operating systems from Microsoft. The R2 version of Windows Server 2008 won't include a 32-bit version. R2 is slated to ship in 2010 if Microsoft keeps to its development track of a minor release two years after a major release, which are planned for every four years.
On the client side, Vista SP1 will be made available on Windows Update next month. The software won't be available via Automatic Updates until April. Microsoft says corporations will be able to use the Microsoft Blocking Tool in order to prevent the service pack from being automatically downloaded.
Vista SP1 includes bug fixes and performance enhancements but no new features, according to senior product manager in the Windows client division, David Zipkin.
Vista SP1 includes changes that streamline setup and installation. It also includes all previously released updates since RTM, performance and reliability improvements such as file copy, network browsing and improved response time to resume from sleep, and change to administration features, including changes to BitLocker that enable encryption for multiple volumes.
Over the years, SP1 versions of any Microsoft products have become a traditional milestone that some corporate users wait for before they even consider rolling out the software.
Uptake of Vista has been slow by corporate users, many of whom have standardized on XP and are reluctant to undertake another migration.