Microsoft to emulate open source updates

Adopts a more modular approach with Windows Server 2003

Adopts a more modular approach with Windows Server 2003

When Microsoft launches Windows Server 2003 next month, many additional pieces to the operating system will be works in progress. Microsoft is taking a more modular approach to shipping the OS compared with earlier Windows Server versions. That could translate into greater flexibility delivering additional components over a longer period of time. The strategy will also let Microsoft release technologies that simply won't be ready in time for Windows Server 2003's 24 April launch. Previously, Microsoft has released the bulk of features with a major Windows Server version, adding minor enhancements over time. The new approach means enhancements to Windows Server 2003 can be made before the release of the next version of Microsoft's server operating system, code-named Blackcomb, in a few years. One of the most significant updates is likely to come after Microsoft ships Windows XP's successor on the desktop, code-named Longhorn, in late 2004 or early 2005. Analysts praised the new approach as smart business on Microsoft's part and as beneficial to customers, who would see the value of their Windows Server investment increase as new features become available. The strategy shift also could help Microsoft combat the appearance that its software development efforts are lumbering compared with that of Linux and other open source software. But delivery of so many pieces after the server software launches also raises a spectre of doubt over a product that Microsoft delayed shipping three times over two years. The problem isn't future technologies that are in development but a long list of components announced as part of Windows Server 2003 that will ship over the six months after the product's launch. The list includes: Greenwich, Microsoft's new business-class instant messaging technology; Group Policy Management Console; collaboration tool Windows Team Services; security enhancement Windows Rights Management Services (RMS); and Windows Systems Resource Manager (WSRM), among others. Bob O'Brien, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Server, said that the product is complete. "These (non-shipping) capabilities we said from the beginning we would deliver post-delivery of the server platform. The things we're going to release later simply are going to add value to the product." Michael Cherry, an analyst with market researcher Directions on Microsoft agreed. "I don't look at it as Windows Server 2003 isn't ready. Microsoft is responding to new situations." Joe Wilcox writes for News.com