Did Microsoft just leak the name of its next server?

One well-connected Windows watcher says that Longhorn Server - the current codename for Microsoft's 2007 server release - will "definitely not be called Windows Vista Server." He might have to eat those words, judging from the text that inadvertently leaked into a Help file for a new Windows Vista component. I've got the pictures to prove it.

Everyone knows that the desktop edition of Microsoft's next operating system will be called Windows Vista. But the server edition, due sometime in 2007, is still being developed under the Longhorn codename, and Microsoft has steadfastly refused to publicly call it anything other than Windows Server "Longhorn". In fact, at least one normally well-connected Windows watcher insists that "it's likely that this product, currently codenamed Longhorn Server, will be called Windows Server 2007. It will definitely not be called Windows Vista Server."

Well, never say never.

Last week Microsoft released a Vista-specific replacement for its ActiveSync software, called Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). Like its predecessor, it synchronizes data between handheld devices (Pocket PCs and SmartPhones) and Outlook. While poking through the WMDC Help files today, I ran across this interesting topic, which seems to suggest that Windows Vista Server will indeed be the name:


That's the first time I've seen that moniker used in any official Microsoft documentation.

Now, it's entirely possible that the documentation specialist who prepared that Help file just took a wild guess about the name. But I think it's equally likely that someone forgot to scrub the actual name from the Help file and replace it with the codename.

It makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to share the Vista brand name with its desktop OS. Having the Vista brand name on a server product will send the message that it's designed to work with its desktop counterpart and vice-versa. Given the tepid response Vista is getting so far from corporations, every little bit of branding helps.

If this really is the new name, I would also expect an official announcement any day now.

Update 28-June 2:30PDT: The Windows Server Division WebLog says "oops":

In a blog posted yesterday, Ed Bott noticed "Windows Vista Server" cropping up in the documentation for Windows Mobile Device Center (the replacement for ActiveSync in Windows Vista). I can confirm that this is just an unfortunate slip-up on the part of the WMDC documentation team, and it will be corrected in the next refresh.

Although both client and server are part of a project code-named "Longhorn", and although the client team have formally announced that the client previously known as Windows "Longhorn" is now officially "Windows Vista", I can categorically state that it has never been our intention on the server side to follow the same naming scheme. In fact, if you check our blog from back when Beta 1 released, you'll see that we were saying the same even then.

We know that speculating on the name of the server operating system that will follow Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 is an exciting pursuit, but we're going to have to leave you in suspense on that one a little while longer :-)

No word on the fate of that poor documentation specialist.