Windows Server 2008, Vista SP1 Hit RC Milestone

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Microsoft Wednesday continued its hand in hand development of Windows Server2008 and Windows Vista's first service pack, publishing release candidates(RC) for each product.

The big updates in Windows 2008 RC1 revolve around enhancements to GroupPolicy, a management framework first introduced in Windows 2000 Server.Group Policy Preferences, as it has been renamed, was formerly known asPolicyMaker Standard Edition and Policy Share Manager. The main benefits ofPreferences appear to be more granularity for admins and simplifiedadministration through reduced complexity of configuration scripts.

The release of RC1 means that Windows 2008 is essentially featurecomplete, with only very minor tweaks made going forward. Tina Couch, whodescribed herself as the "newest member to the Windows Server team," blogged that Windows 2008 will be released tomanufacturing (RTM) by the date of the "Global Launch Wave" Feb. 27.

In an interesting side note, the Launch Wave itself has undergone a namechange, now called "Heroes Happen Here." Couch claimed that it's the"largest enterprise launch in history, a whopping $150 million+ worldwidefor outreach and demand generation to IT Pros and developers."

Vista SP1 is at the same stage of development as Windows 2008, and mostof the changes since the most recent beta release concern installationissues. Vista Product Manager Nick White, on Microsoft's Vista team blog, wrote that thechanges include:

  • Significantly smaller installer packages, reduced in some cases byhalf
  • Reduced disk space needs to install the SP
  • Better cleanup and deletion of files used for the install
  • Bug fixes to smooth the install process
  • More built-in guidance on how to install

White also added that Microsoft intends to "complete and release" SP1 inQ1 next year, putting it on nearly the identical release path as Windows2008.

Since Windows 2008 and Vista SP1 share most of the same codebase, itmakes sense to keep the releases close together, since getting the codebasestoo out of sync can cause problems. In an earlier storyabout delays in the Windows 2008 rollout timetable, analyst Rob Enderle ofthe Enderle Group speculated about the delay. "From the standpoint ofservers, Microsoft would rather have [Windows 2008] at [Vista] SP1 levelwhen it ships," Enderle said in late August.

Vista RC1 was made available yesterday to TechNet and MSDN subscribers. Whitesaid that it will be available publicly next week on the Microsoft DownloadCenter.

Both Windows 2008 and Vista SP1 have been hit hard by delays. Windows2008, formerly codenamed "Longhorn", has been in development for years, andhas had a number of major features altered or completely eliminated; even then, its ship date kept slipping until the Global Launch Wave datewas announced. Vista SP1 is a much-anticipated release for Microsoft, ascorporations typically wait until the first service pack is released for aproduct before it's deemed stable enough to roll out on the network. Vistacould use a boost, as its sales figures have sagged well below expectations since its release early this year.

The other products scheduled to be announced at the launch event in LosAngeles include SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.

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About the author: Keith Ward is online news editor for the Redmond Media Group. You can contact him at kward@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Keith Ward is online news editor for the Redmond Media Group. You can contact him at kward@1105media.com.

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