• United States

Don’t sweat the big stuff

Jun 09, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Forget Longhorn, Microsoft has other releases that need your immediate attention

One of these days, we might actually know when the next version of the Windows server operating system will ship. Yes, I know there was a lot of ink (and dead trees) given over to announcements about the “Windows Road Map” over the past couple of weeks, but how realistic are these projections?

According to John Fontana’s story in Network World (link below), Longhorn Server will officially ship in 2007. John wrote that with a straight face, I’m sure, but I don’t think he’ll be willing to lay odds that the dates are cast in stone. After all, it was just two months ago when I referred to an IDG News Service story that quoted Bill Gates setting 2006 as the year for Longhorn to ship (see second link below).

A year ago (, though, Microsoft said there wouldn’t even be a server version of Longhorn (still thought of by its old codename of Blackcomb), but that a series of updates and add-ons for Windows 2003 Server would be released over a number of years.

The year before that (, we were still saying that Longhorn/Blackcomb would be pushed back until 2005. Add to this confusion the on-again, off-again idea of shipping server and desktop versions of Windows together as opposed to staggering the releases two years apart and it could begin to make your head hurt.

There are probably people working for the bigger consultancy and analysis firms (Accenture, Gartner, et al) whose job is solely to update the release calendar for Microsoft products. I’ve got better things to do and I hope you do, too.

There are lots of new Microsoft server products being released every quarter. They may not be a full-blown server operating system, but they are useful products for the enterprise network.

For example, late last year Redmond released Live Communications Server, which provides enterprise instant messaging services. A new version is slated for late this year. Releasing this month is Speech Server 2004, a speech recognition platform. Also later this year will come the first iteration of System Center 2005, a platform for management products that will incorporate System Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). There have been others, also.

The point I want to make is that while the Windows server operating system may go four or five years between major upgrades, the functionality of the platform is being improved almost monthly, probably six to eight times per year. Tying your network’s development to the operating system’s calendar could be a serious case of wrong thinking. Sure, its entertaining to play the “when will it ship” game but we also need to keep in touch with reality. And reality is that there are new services coming all the time that need to be evaluated, tested and (frequently) installed and rolled out. Those services deserve your full attention. There will be  time enough to worry about Windows 2005, or 2006, or 2007 or 200x when the final version gets released to manufacturing.