Hardware makers urged to jump on Longhorn bandwagon

Bill Gates says Microsoft will help manufacturers prove to customers that new servers and desktops will be able to handle the load when the Longhorn versions of Windows hit the market.

SEATTLE -- A top Windows executive on Monday showed Microsoft's hardware partners its latest product roadmap, emphasizing...

the company's move to 64-bit operating systems and systems management and urging them to

[Microsoft is] trying to get the hardware manufacturers to move from one level to the other more aggressively.

Rob Enderle, analyst,

Enderle Group

offer support.

The push is meant to spur hardware OEMs to be ready for the next generation of Windows products -- in particular, the Longhorn client and server operating systems -- said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, in San Jose, Calif.

"One of the big things [Microsoft is doing at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference] is getting everybody ready for Longhorn," Enderle said. "And they absolutely needed the 64-bit platform that people could write drivers for."

The WinHEC 2005 address by Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Windows Server Division, added further emphasis to Microsoft's message to its hardware partners. Earlier in the day, Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect, urged hardware makers to work with his company to move the industry forward. Gates said Microsoft would work with hardware partners to label PCs as "Longhorn-ready" to help assuage customers' fears that new hardware wouldn't support the long-anticipated software platform.

Moving to 64-bit computing

On the server side, Muglia said Microsoft and the hardware world needed to move forward together with technologies like 64-bit computing and virtualization. Active Directory was pushed as a management solution, and Muglia urged OEMs to ship products with Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 management packs. "The unexploited opportunity is hardware integration with Active Directory," Muglia said.

Opportunities also exist in the small business and storage markets using Microsoft's Small Business Server, Windows Storage Server 2003 and System Center Data Protection Manager 2006, he said.

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"The opportunity to put servers into [the small business] space is phenomenal," Muglia said. "It's the fastest growing part of our server business today. The user base is less sophisticated and the hardware needs are different … This is an area where Microsoft and our partners in the industry are going to continue to make major investments."

Microsoft is trying to get everybody on that same page, Enderle said. "They're trying to get the hardware manufacturers to move from one level to the other more aggressively.

The hardware manufacturers always want to sell as much stuff as they possibly can, and Microsoft is giving them a reason to align their marketing pitches so that the customer says, 'It's time to move.' "

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