Gates: .NET Server 2003 to ship in April

It looks like .NET Server 2003 will be an April release -- no foolin'. MS execs have detailed a few enhancements being packed into the long-awaited product.

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates on Monday set a new release date for the company's upcoming server platform and highlighted some additional performance enhancements.

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  • During his keynote speech at the Comdex Fall 2002 conference in Las Vegas, Gates said that .NET Server 2003 will ship in April 2003. Release candidate two is due out within "a few weeks," he said.

    Microsoft executives also said that engineers have enhanced some core elements of .NET Server 2003. They include improved scheduling, which prioritizes CPU resources for specific tasks; better memory management, which reduces CPU memory calls; boosted performance on the disk subsystem; and the ability to support more users on the network.

    Microsoft has also enhanced some services in the server relating to Active Directory and IIS. The improvements to Active Directory include faster logon for end users and faster data replication for remote offices. IIS adds some new page caching and connection management features, executives said.

    At least one early adopter of some .NET products said he expects to see performance enhancements from .NET Server 2003 that aren't available with Windows 2000.

    Dollar Rent-A-Car Systems Inc. is currently running XML Web services and has converted a core part of its Web site to ASP.NET. Peter Osbourne, group manager for advanced technology at the Tulsa, Okla.-based firm, said that although Web services run fine on Windows 2000, "the real destination platform for both will be .NET Server 2003."

    Osbourne said that his company is hoping to join Microsoft's early adopters program. Dollar currently has the initial release candidate installed, and it is running smoothly, he said. If for some reason Dollar doesn't get chosen for Microsoft's program, Osbourne said that he plans to have .NET Server installed within a few weeks of its release.

    One analyst observed that Microsoft's further enhancements and integration of Active Directory into .NET Server 2003 show that Active Directory -- which was part of Windows 2000, though more at arm's length -- will become more important to the operating system platform over time.

    "If customers choose another directory, it means they are looking at having a two-directory strategy," said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research at International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based consulting firm.

    All of Microsoft's newest platform versions, from SQL Server to Exchange and IIS, will want Active Directory.

    "It's a 'surround and capture' strategy," Kusnetzky said. "If organizations want to use Microsoft software, they will be using Active Directory. Over time it will make every other computing environment an island."

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