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Windows Server 2008 RTMs in early February

After years of delays and numerous changes, Windows Server 2008 code will finally be completed next week.

After nearly five years of development, numerous iterations and missed release dates, Windows Server 2008 will finally be released to manufacturing on February 6.

Microsoft's official launch date for Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 is February 27, although delivery of SQL Server 2008 was recently delayed until Q3 2008.

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A Microsoft insider confirmed the RTM date.

All of the Windows Server 2008 SKUs, except those with the Hyper-V hypervisor, will RTM on February 6. Vista Service Pack 1 is also slated to be ready that date. Hyper-V is still scheduled to come out six months after the Windows Server 2008 launch.

Though the server, once code-named Longhorn, is far different from what originally appeared on the drawing board at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in 2003, engineers and IT shops who have tested the new software generally give it good reviews.

Increased performance when running with IIS 7.0, improved configurability and toolsets are just some of the plusses reported by early adopters. Additionally, with the previous server and toolsets, you had to be an administrator; now managers can offer tiered permissions, said Dominic Foster, a senior systems engineer at MaximumASP LLC, a Louisville, Ky., hosting provider and Microsoft partner.

"There is some great potential in things like server core now," Foster said. "You can install a slim version of the OS, and it runs flawlessly."

.NET is MIA, but DCs and DNS make the grade

Foster cited one limitation: The .NET platform doesn't run on Windows Server 2008 core. But DNS and domain controllers perform well, he said.

Releasing the final code early is nearly a necessity, considering previous delays. Having a launch event with only Visual Studio 2008 ready would be odd, at best, said Neil Macehiter, a principal at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, a U.K.-based consulting firm. The server infrastructure is a significant part of that launch, he added.

One final concern of some early adopters is whether the servers can be migrated and, therefore, integrated with other back-office servers, particularly where there are differences in the Web server, IIS 6.0 and IIS 7.0, the latter of which is in Windows Server 2008. Not all adopters will perform a clean install.

The latest beta of Windows Server 2008 does have an upgrade path built in for SQL Server 2005, for example. With earlier versions of the server, experts highly recommend that IT shops build anew versus upgrade existing servers.

"We always recommend that IT shops do clean installs," said Nelson Ruest, principal at Resolutions Enterprises, a Victoria, B.C., consulting firm.

Barbara Darrow of contributed to this story.

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