Microsoft launches PowerShell, lays out Longhorn roadmap

On the heels of the completion of Vista and Office, Microsoft Tuesday opened its annual IT Forum conference by confirming the road map for the next beta of Longhorn Server, announcing the release of its long-awaited PowerShell command line tool, and unveiling a host of new and upcoming releases of platform and application management tools.

The announcements were made by Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the company’s server and tools business, during his keynote speech at the conference in Barcelona, Spain. He also emphasized the management infrastructure Microsoft has been building over the past three years under its Dynamic Systems Initiative banner.

Muglia said that Microsoft released for download its PowerShell command line interface and scripting environment, which is targeted at making it easier for IT administrators to manage their Windows environment from Exchange 2007 to Windows Server. PowerShell also works with System Center Operations Manager 2007, System Center Data Protection Manager V2, and System Center VirtualMachine.

Muglia also said that Beta 3 of Longhorn Server, which will be the final beta for the server, is still slated for release in the first half of 2007. Microsoft plans to distribute the beta to a wider number of users than the 500,000 beta testers of Beta 2, which shipped in May.

The final release of Longhorn is still on schedule for the end of 2007, according to Microsoft officials.

Still under review, however, is the new hypervisor virtualization technology, which is code-named Viridian, that has been touted as a feature of Longhorn.

“We are still working through the final details of how we will deliver this,” says Bob Visse, senior director of marketing for Windows Server. The official line remains that Viridian will be delivered 100 to 180 days after Longhorn ships.

“We would certainly love to do anything we could do to pull that in, but we have not made any announcements,” said Visse.

Microsoft’s recent partnership with Novell included a focus on co-developing virtualization technology but it is unclear if that would affect the delivery of Viridian.

Muglia also said that Microsoft would make available this week the “release candidate” of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 through the Customer Preview Program. The final release of the SP2, which is mostly a collection of updates, is expected to ship before the end of March 2007.

He also said Microsoft has updated its Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 OS Deployment Feature Pack to enable zero-touch deployment of Windows Vista. It also plans to release before the end of March 2007 System Management Server 2003 Service Pack 3, which includes tools to identify machines not compliant with the system requirements of Vista and Office 2007.

Muglia also unveiled the availability of the first public beta for Microsoft Forefront Client Security (formerly called Microsoft Client Protection), a desktop management tool. The beta is available online .

He said Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint will be available in December. In addition, updated versions of the SharePoint Portal Optimizer and a new Dynamics CRM Application Optimizer, which help optimize VPN connections for those particular applications, will be available before the end of March 2007. The Optimizers work with the Intelligent Application Gateway, which Microsoft obtained when it acquired Whale Communications earlier this year.

Muglia also said the “release to manufacturing” of Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals, would be Nov. 30, and that performance updates for SQL Server 2005 SP2 will ship before the end of March 2007. The updates include data compression, increased business intelligence features in SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Analysis Services, security updates relating to Common Criteria, manageability enhancements, support for Windows Vista and optimization for Office 2007 collaboration environment.

IT Forum, which runs through this week, is expected to attract 4,750 IT professionals from around the world.

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