Microsoft ships ‘heavy load’ Windows

Microsoft Corp. began shipping Monday a new version of its Windows server software tuned for data centres and designed to hold over customers as they await the release of a .Net version of the product.

Microsoft has made available through its hardware partners the Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition, which was first detailed in September, the company said. The release is aimed at customers that use Microsoft software to manage servers that deal with a heavy load of transactions, such as those used in sectors including financial services, electronic commerce and telecommunication.

The 32-bit system is a follow-on to Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, but is somewhat of an interim release as the company prepares to launch the Windows .Net Server line sometime in the second half of the year, according to analysts.

Microsoft last week delayed the release of that next version of the Windows server by a few months, including a version designed for running on data centre servers. The Windows .Net Server will feature additional support for the company’s initiative for delivering applications and services across the Internet, including the underpinning technology known as the .Net Framework.

The .Net data centre server will also support both 32-bit systems and 64-bit systems running Intel Corp.’s Itanium processor, which is designed to support larger-scale processing of data, such as tasks done in the field of 3D animation.

Customers who purchase Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition will receive a free upgrade to Windows .Net Datacenter Server, Microsoft said. The company said it will also stop supporting the Limited Edition data centre server software 90 days after it ships the manufacturer version of the Windows .Net Datacenter Server.

One goal of the interim release is to get its large customers prepared for making the switch to .Net, said Al Gillen, research director of systems software with Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

“Data centre server customers typically are going to be slow to move to any new technology, ” Gillen said. He added that some early .Net technology included in the Limited Edition release will give customers a way to do some testing of the software.

Microsoft is making the new software available through its partner hardware vendors, including IBM Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. Upgrades to Windows .Net Server Datacenter Edition will be available through those same manufacturers, Microsoft said.

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