Windows 2000 Server now .NET Server 2003

First, it was called "Whistler." Then "Windows 2002 Server." After that, "Windows .NET Server." And now, this product is called "Windows .NET Server 2003." Analysts think Microsoft's changing the name yet again means the product won't reach the majority of customers before early 2003.

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Microsoft Corp. said it was changing the branding for its Windows .NET Server family of products to Windows .NET Server 2003.

The company revealed the new branding to its employees at an all-day company meeting this week. The product family will include four editions. They are the Windows .NET Server 2003 Standard Edition; the Windows .NET Server 2003 Enterprise Edition; the Windows .NET Server 2003 Datacenter Edition; and the Windows .NET Server 2003 Web Edition.

A Windows .NET Server release candidate shipped late last month. The new operating system is expected to ship in late 2002 or at the latest, in early 2003. The software has made major changes to the server's Active Directory and security.

Since so many IT shops are still running Microsoft's NT 4.0 server, the big question for them will be whether or not to move up to Windows 2000 or to make the leap to Windows .NET Server 2003. Bob O'Brien, group product manager of Microsoft's Windows Server business, recommends that customers choose .NET Server 2003 because the software, tools and the documentation are big improvements over Windows 2000.

"Even if you don't want all the new features, [do it for] the sheer experience of the upgrade," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said he does not expect Windows 2000 customers to do a wholesale upgrade to .NET Server 2003. There are certain aspects of the infrastructure, however, where some IT managers may want to upgrade pieces to get some of the new functionality.

For example, customers who want the new directory services might upgrade their domain controllers, but that does not mean they need to upgrade file servers or line of business servers, O'Brien said. Customers who want the volume shadow copy feature only need to upgrade the servers where they want that capability.

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