As Windows Server 2008 RTMs, Customers and Partners Adopting with Help of New Tools, Training

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 4, 2008 –Approaching the company’s largest enterprise launch in its history, Microsoft reached another important milestone today with the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows Server 2008. The response from IT professionals and developers has been strong as the company moves toward the worldwide launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 on February 27.

One indication of the momentum that is building around the latest server operating system is the number of beta and evaluation versions that customers and partners have obtained: more than two million.

IT professionals face increasing pressure from rapidly changing technology, increasing costs and security concerns, and expanding business needs. Windows Server 2008 helps alleviate these pressures by automating daily management tasks, tightening security, improving efficiency and increasing availability. It also offers virtualization solutions that will enable IT professionals to reduce costs, increase hardware utilization, optimize their infrastructure, and improve server availability.

Furthermore, because Windows Server 2008 was developed in tandem with the Windows Vista code base, it has most of that operating system’s advanced management and security features, such as integrated Network Access Protection (NAP) and Group Policy. Customers will also see system-wide performance improvements from an integrated system architecture, including network file sharing, managed quality of service and reduced power consumption. Common tools and processes across both operating systems will result in efficiencies for IT organizations.

“We’ve been working with partners around the world who are creating solutions that take advantage of the new platform’s feature set,” said Bob Visse, senior director, Windows Server Marketing Group at Microsoft. “There’s been tremendous support for the operating system and a lot of excitement around the opportunity it represents for the industry.”

Microsoft is also offering customers a Go Live License, which permits them to deploy beta releases of Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS 7.0) into live production. So far, 28 companies worldwide have created and launched hosted offerings using this program, and hundreds more have downloaded the Windows Server 2008 beta and begun testing.

With Windows Server 2008, Microsoft is also embracing PHP hosting on Windows via the FastCGI module for IIS 7.0. PHP is a popular open-source scripting language used to build dynamic web applications. This allows IT Professionals to host PHP and ASP.net applications side by side. As a result, the PHP community will be able to take advantage of the increased reliability of PHP on Windows and simplified administration available on the Windows platform.

Customers: On Your Mark…

To help IT professionals evaluate the migration-readiness of their existing networks, Microsoft has created four automated assessment tools, or “Solution Accelerators:”

  • the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) tool, which helps evaluate installed applications on servers, performs hardware assessments and makes recommendations regarding server virtualization;

  • the Infrastructure Planning and Design guides, which describe the architectural considerations involved in implementing the upgrade to Windows Server 2008;

  • the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide, which provides best practices and automated tools to help strengthen the security of servers running Windows Server 2008; and

  • the Microsoft Deployment tool, which decreases the cost of client and server deployments by providing detailed guidance and job aids for every organizational role involved with large-scale deployment projects.

Enterprise customers planning to upgrade can follow a few basic steps to help prepare and plan for the move to Windows Server 2008:

  1. Use Microsoft’s free tools to assess their enterprise’s current servers and determine which can be upgraded and which servers will require a “clean install. “

  2. Engage with their application suppliers for prescriptive guidance.

  3. Test applications they’re planning to run for compatibility with Windows 2008.

  4. Research certified hardware and software solutions in the Windows Server Catalog.

Upgrade Options

Windows Server 2008 uses image-based deployment to make the installation process as efficient as possible. Installation images are the fastest way to deploy an operating system. Image-based setup also is less error-prone than a scripted installation process.

Customers upgrading from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 will follow one of two methods, depending upon their current environment. Servers that are running only software applications that came with Windows Server 2003, such as Active Directory, Domain Name System (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), are the best candidates for a simple upgrade.

Microsoft recommends other customers running a wider variety of applications follow IT community best practices and perform a “clean install” of Windows Server 2008. A clean install involves loading Windows Server 2008 on a partition that is not running an existing operating system. Microsoft advises those customers who want to pursue an upgrade to first contact the software manufacturer for prescriptive guidance. Customers running applications whose manufacturers do not provide support during the upgrade process, which did not ship with Windows Server 2003 or that weren’t delivered to Windows Server via Windows Update should remove those applications first, perform the upgrade to Windows Server 2008, verify the applications are supported on Windows Server 2008 and then reinstall the applications.

Windows Server 2008 also offers a barebones installation option called Server Core, in which only the services required to perform the Active Directory Domain Services, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS), DHCP, DNS Server, File Services, Print Server, Streaming Media Services, Web Server (IIS), or Hyper-V (Virtualization), roles are installed. A Server Core installation offers base-level server functionality without any extra overhead, so it will typically require less maintenance and fewer updates than a full installation.

Ensuring Compatibility

To help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), independent hardware vendors (IHVs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and other developers build solutions that IT professionals can deploy immediately with confidence, Microsoft created the Windows Server 2008 Logo Program.

“We’ve been working with more than 1,000 software and hardware partners to help ensure that their products take full advantage of the capabilities and features of Windows Server 2008,” said Visse.

Windows Server 2008 software certification comprises approximately 100 test cases that independently confirm an application’s compliance with best practices for compatibility, security, reliability and availability on the server operating system. The certification identifies top-performing technologies that are ready to deploy in mission-critical environments.

The program features two designations – the “Works with Windows Server 2008” designation ensures that an application is in compliance with best practices for the most common Windows Server 2008 functions, while the “Certified for Windows Server 2008” logo supports rigorous standards for stability, security, reliability and overall performance.

Microsoft expects there to be at least 80 software applications certified for Windows Server 2008 by the end of February, and roughly 300 more that are considered ready for the new platform. A complete list of compatible hardware and software products is available at http://www.windowsservercatalog.com.

In addition to encouraging customers to look for the certification logo when they make purchasing decisions, Microsoft has done something new for Windows Server 2008. The company has made the same tools that ISVs used to test their products for compatibility available to IT professionals so that they can test both commercial applications and custom applications they’ve developed in-house. The tools are downloadable at http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/ready.

There is also a Windows Server 2008 Developer Center site that is a portal for both ISV developers and enterprise developers working on custom applications. The site provides how-to videos, interviews with Microsoft engineers and related documents. It also links to a moderated technical forum for application readiness and certification discussions and questions http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/default.aspx.