On Friday, March 28, Microsoft officially released Windows Server 2003 to its OEM partners so they can begin imaging it on new machines for sale on or after the upcoming official product launch date (the day the product goes on sale to the general public). Microsoft-speak for this milestone is "release to manufacturing," also known as RTM. RTM is the most tangible signal that a new Microsoft product release is not just forthcoming, but imminent.
The currently scheduled launch date for Windows Server 2003 is Thursday, April 24, with RTM occurring more or less on schedule. (Usually, RTM precedes product launch by somewhere between 20 and 30 days.) This also means that the code for Windows Server 2003 is now officially frozen. Any additional changes to the code base will now go into Microsoft's hotfix and service pack system, to be released for download or access through the Windows Update Service or other equivalent release mechanisms such as the CDs made available to Microsoft partners and customers through the MSDN and TechNet CD subscription programs.
The significance of all this for MCP, MCSA and MCSE exam candidates is that the clock will start ticking in earnest for delivery of Windows Server 2003-related exams soon after April 24. This milestone will also firm up Microsoft's beta dates for Windows Server 2003 certification, which were announced this past February.
The timetable for all this is listed below, including my own predictions for public
|70-290||Managing and maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 environment||June||July/Aug|
|70-291||Implementing, managing and maintaining a Windows Server 2003 network infrastructure||June||July/Aug|
|70-292||Managing and maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 environment for an MCSA certified on Windows 2000||June||July/Aug|
|70-293||Planning and maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 network infrastructure||June||Sept/Oct|
|70-294||Planning, implementing and maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory infrastructure||June||Sept/Oct|
|70-296||Planning, implementing and maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 environment for an MCSE certified on Windows 2000||June||Sept/Oct|
|70-297||Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and network infrastructure||August||Sept/Oct|
|70-298||Designing security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 network||N/A||N/A|
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the series editor of the Que Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java and security certifications.
This was first published in April 2003