Longhorn Server beta also out to testers

Lost amid the recent fanfare around the unveiling of Microsoft’s Vista client operating system, the company also shipped the first beta of its next-generation server software to a select group of testers.

Beta 1 of Longhorn Server, which according to Microsoft will not be called Vista Server, includes the core subsystems such as the Web service gateway called Windows Communication Foundation (formerly Indigo), and base-level APIs that will let developers and IT shops get a feel for the server.

“What Microsoft is asking is that as you are taking a first look at these low-level systems, now is the time to let us know if the core is correct,” said Michael Cherry, an analyst with independent research firm Directions on Microsoft. “As more work moves up the stack into the other features, it is harder to come back and fix [the core] if it is not right.”

Cherry says there should be enough functionality in the betas to test basic interoperability between client and server.

The two operating systems are being developed in tandem, but Longhorn is slated to ship six to 12 months after Vista’s target ship date of late 2006.

Eric Rudder, senior vice-president in Microsoft’s servers and tools division, said at the company’s financial analysts meeting last month that Microsoft would ship Community Technical Previews and other betas of Longhorn Server throughout this year.

The company did not announce when the first public beta would be available, but the first public beta for Vista is slated for early next year.

Longhorn Server beta 1 was made available to 5,000 testers, including OEMs, hardware manufacturers, system builders, independent software vendors, developers and Microsoft’s internal IT organization. Microsoft officials said some customer members of its technology advancement program also received the beta.

While Longhorn Server beta 1 contains just a subset of the functionality slated for the server, Microsoft says the feature set for the final release has not changed, including task-oriented management, centralized and filtered event logging, image-based setup and deployment, transactional file system and registry, reduced reboots and smaller server footprint. Longhorn Server also will include Network Access Protection, a feature that was pulled from Release 2 of Windows Server, slated for release at year-end.

A Microsoft official reiterated the company line that Longhorn Server will not ship until it has “received extensive feedback from beta customers and partners and after we have thoroughly tested the software.”

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