Microsoft looks beyond Windows Server 2008

While the software giant is mum on what follows Vista on the desktop, it does lay out plans for Windows Server.
Written by Ina Fried, Contributor
LOS ANGELES--Microsoft said Wednesday that the follow-on to its Windows Server 2008 operating system will be an interim release due to arrive in 2009.

The software maker offered few details on Windows Server 2008 R2, other than to say the interim update will be offered only in a 64-bit version.

"We're thinking about what we'll do next," Windows Server general manager Bill Laing said, speaking at the Windows Hardware and Engineering Conference (WinHEC) here. The plan sticks to one laid out by server and tools unit boss Bob Muglia some time ago that calls for the server unit to release a major version of its operating system every four years and a more minor release every two years.

The initial Windows Server 2008 release, due to be finalized late this year, will be offered in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, though Laing said it will be the last server operating system to come in a 32-bit version.

Laing said Microsoft is still aiming to finish its work on that release, formerly known as Longhorn Server, by the end of the year. But he also put in the standard Microsoft hedge that quality is the main goal and the company won't ship the product until it reaches a certain threshold.

During his talk, Laing confirmed that several other products built on top of Windows Server 2008 are still on track to ship next year, including a small business server, code-named Cougar, and a midmarket server, code-named Centro. Microsoft started testing both products last year.

Last week, Microsoft announced that it is cutting several features from its server virtualization technology, dubbed Viridian, in order to stick to its goal of releasing it within 180 days of finishing Windows Server 2008.

The specificity on the server side contrasts with silence from the desktop Windows unit, which has refused to talk about what comes after Vista. Microsoft has said it will have a service pack for Vista, but won't offer any details or time frame, nor will it talk about plans for future releases.

In a talk Wednesday, Windows Client Vice President Mike Nash focused entirely on the current release of Vista, congratulating hardware makers on the work they have done to get products ready for Windows Vista, but encouraging them to work hard to get support finished for any remaining products.

Nash said Vista now works with 1.9 million different hardware devices, but that a few stragglers are causing a large percentage of the hardware-related crashes. About 4,000 such products account for 80 percent of crashes, he said. "We need to have a shared focus on getting those additional devices supported," Nash said.

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