REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 18, 2004 — Adoption of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is growing at the fastest rate of any Windows Server operating system ever released, say representatives of the Windows Server Group, and feedback continues to be positive. In 2005, Microsoft plans to deliver more updates to the Windows Server platform than ever before and continue to enhance and expand its partnerships to provide more complete, secure and customer-driven solutions.
Bob Kelly , a general manager in the Windows Server Group, recently met with PressPass to share insights about the upcoming releases to the Windows Server Product Roadmap, market adoption for Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to ensure greater security and productivity for customers throughout their deployments.
PressPass: What are you hearing from customers about Windows Server 2003?
Kelly: The response from customers since the launch of Windows Server 2003 in April 2003 has far exceeded our expectations. Just 18 months after its release, Windows Server 2003 has become the fastest-selling and most-deployed server operating system Microsoft has ever released. According to internal data, new customer deployments of Windows Server 2003 have grown by 375 percent. We estimate that four out of five newly deployed systems run Windows Server 2003. Earlier this year, IDC projected that the Windows Server 2003 installed base will overtake Windows NT 4.0 and Windows Server 2000 deployments by 2005, less than two years after the product’s launch (Source: “Worldwide Windows Server Operating Environments 2004-2008 Forecast and Analysis: Growth Continues, Version Granularity the Story for Tomorrow,” April 2004). By comparison, it took Windows Server 2000 three years to overtake Windows NT 4.0. We’re ecstatic about this rate of adoption, and it’s a true proof point to the value that customers and partners are getting from the improvements and increased functionality in Windows Server 2003.
PressPass: What’s next on the Windows Server Roadmap?
Kelly: 2004 has been a big year, but 2005 will be a breakout year for Windows Server, with many new innovations delivered in several upcoming releases. With the availability of the latest hardware advancements, customers can expect considerable performance improvements across a variety of workloads. We’re on track to deliver the most customer-driven releases of our Windows-based server product in the history of the company. We’ll have Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows Update Services, and the Windows Server 2003 x64 editions in the first half of 2005. Windows Server 2003 HPC (High Performance Computing) Edition and both Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 will be ready in the second half of the year. In addition, our customers will be able to begin testing the first beta of our next major Windows Server release — code-named “Longhorn Server” — in the second half of the year. Customers are telling us that they’re eager to receive the added functionality within these releases, and we’re pleased to have incorporated a great deal of their feedback into the upcoming versions.
With Windows Server 2003 SP1, customers will see significant performance, management, security and efficiency improvements that will lead to better scalability on their Windows-based servers and increased productivity for IT administrators. Customers will also see faster performance and increased scalability with Windows Server 2003 x64 editions, and training efforts with customers and partners in preparation for this technology are currently in full swing. Also, in the high-end computing space, we’re releasing a software development kit of the beta version of Windows Server 2003 HPC Edition to select partners for testing later this year. We’ll share more details about that at the SuperComputing 2004 conference in November.
Customers can also expect to see a beta of Windows Server 2003 R2 by the end of the year. R2 will focus on several improvements for our customers, including simplified branch server management, streamlined access management across security boundaries and efficient storage management.
PressPass: Given that security is such a huge priority for organizations right now, what security improvements can customers expect to see in Windows Server 2003 and subsequent releases?
Kelly : Improving security for our customers is a top priority for us, and we’re making improvements in both the short and long term that will help our customers better protect their organizations from malicious attacks. We’ve already released a new wave of security guidance for Windows-based servers and Windows XP SP2, which can be found on the Microsoft( Security Guidance Center ) Web site. With Windows Server 2003 SP1, we’re including the Security Configuration Wizard, which is already drawing raves from our customers, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) Quarantine technology that will help customers build VPN-based inspection tools to ensure computers are healthy when they attempt connect to their network remotely. This technology is based on the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit, which was released with Windows Server 2003 in April 2003. We expect to be able to deliver the release candidate code for SP1 to customers before the end of this year.
With Windows Update Services, customers can also expect security improvements that will enable IT administrators to more easily assess, control and automate the deployment of Microsoft software updates, helping them better secure their Windows environments and minimize downtime. Customers can expect to see a broader beta release by the end of this year.
Longer term, we remain committed to improving the security of our infrastructure and will continue working with a broad spectrum of partners to deliver end-to-end solutions for our customers. One of these solutions is Network Access Protection (NAP), which we first discussed at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July. NAP is designed to inspect and assess all Windows-based machines requesting network access in order to ensure every machine complies with the network’s security policy and, if necessary, provide remediation tools to bring the machine into compliance. To make this protection even more comprehensive, Microsoft is joining forces with Cisco Systems to share and integrate Cisco’s network security and health assurance technology, Network Admissions Control (NAC), with NAP (see related story and link to press release on this page) . This is a significant achievement in our efforts to help customers address security threats.
PressPass: How will NAP and the alliance with Cisco benefit customers?
Kelly: One important thing is choice — customers now have the flexibility to choose the right security solution that meets their business needs and the opportunity to choose components — yet implement a single, coordinated solution. From listening to customers, it’s very clear that they want the Microsoft and Cisco solutions to be able to communicate with one another. It’s a big win for customers that they can select either solution without excluding the other, or deploy them both and receive the unique benefits each provides. As a first step, we’ll work on sharing information to drive solution compatibility between NAC and NAP. We’ll also continue working on interoperability along with driving industry standards, which is one of the most important things we can do to broaden market adoption and bring forward benefits for a wide range of customers. For Microsoft customers, this technology will be delivered in Longhorn Server, which is scheduled for release in the 2007 timeframe.
In addition, early feedback from customers tells us that they want a more complete network-access solution delivered right out of the gate, so we’re working to add greater functionality to NAP. For instance, we now plan to include Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) enforcement technology, which helps customers secure communication on the corporate network. IPSec enforcement limits access to trusted assets by non-trusted parties, both within the organization and externally.
Our focus is on ensuring we deliver solid results with our partners and the more complete solution that customers need and have asked us for. Over the coming months, we plan to further expand our partnerships and announce more details about our joint efforts with all of our partners to deliver NAP. We’ve already announced 25 NAP partners at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July, and since then we’ve added 10 new partners.
PressPass. What should customers do now to get ready for Network Access Protection?
Kelly: Microsoft offers VPN Quarantine functionality today in Windows Server 2003 and Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2004 — we recommend that customers deploy this functionality now and review the additional technology guidance on VPN Quarantine that’s available on our Windows Server Web site ( Virtual Private Networks for Windows Server 2003 ). Customers can also begin testing Windows Server 2003 SP1 in preparation for R2. We’ll be sure to continue to give our customers and partners regular updates on our progress with NAP.