A (Microsoft) code name a day: Centro

Today's final entry in the December 2006 "Microsoft Code Name a Day" series is "Centro," aka Microsoft's Windows Server SKU aimed at mid-sized businesses. I know there are lots more Microsoft code names out there that I didn't highlight ... so stay tuned in the new year for more.

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Even though more and more teams at Microsoft seem to be shying away from christening their fledgling products with good, old-fashioned code names – favoring the ever-so-boring “V.Next” designation instead -- there are still some who are doing so.

Microsoft code names always have piqued my interest. They offer some great clues about the Redmondians’ development priorities, not to mention a better understanding of which future Microsoft products fit together, from a strategy standpoint.


In honor of Microsoft code-name junkies everywhere, I’m going to feature one, random Microsoft code name per work day for the rest of this month. I’ll provide as much information as I’ve been able to unearth on each, and attempt to provide some context as to how the team chose the name and how the forthcoming technology fits into the Redmond product hierarchy.

Microsoft code name of the day: Centro

Best guess on what it is: New Windows Server SKU for mid-size businesses. Microsoft was referring to this product as "Windows Midmarket Server," at one point, but now doesn't seem to be using this name.

Meaning/context of the code name: Given the Windows Server team's obsession with ski-resort-focused code names (Longhorn, Cougar, BearPaw, etc.), I would have guessed Centro was some type of British Columbian ski lift. If it is, I've not been able to find any references to it. So my next guess would be that "Centro" refers to the fact that Microsoft's mid-market server will be aimed at customers with needs that are between those using Windows Server and Windows Small Business Server.

Back story: In March, 2005, Microsoft Senior Vice President Orlando Ayala let it slip that Microsoft was readying a server bundle aimed at "the core midmarket" -- businesses wtih between 50 and 249 PCs. In September 2005, Microsoft "officially" acknowledged the existence of Centro. According to current schedules, Centro isn't due to hit the market until 2008.

Additional info: Centro will be a 64-bit-only release. It will integrate Windows Server Longhorn, Exchange Server 2007, System Center Essentials, SQL Server 2005, ISA Server and other Forefront security technologies, according to Microsoft. (Users won't get access to SQL Server unless they purchase the Centro Premium server, plus client-access license solution, however.) Microsoft made availble to selected testers earlier this month a private beta build of Centro.

Anyone have more details to share on "Centro"? Or do you have another Microsoft code name you’ve been wondering about? Send it my way and I’ll do my best to track down some leads on what it might be.

And if you want to keep track of the full month's worth of Microsoft code names I end up posting, bookmark this "Microsoft Codenames" page.