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Windows Server 2008 to RTM next week; partners ready to move

Microsoft will start manufacturing Windows Server 2008 (and Vista SP1) on Feb. 6, ending a long drought between server operating releases. Partners hope to reap migration and integration business from the launch.

Microsoft will have at least one product ready to roll at its triple-threat launch on Feb. 27.

Windows Server 2008 (and Vista Service Pack 1) are slated to release to manufacturing (RTM) on Feb. 6, several sources confirmed to That gives the company plenty of time to churn out disks for distribution at the event, which Microsoft executives have characterized as the company's "biggest enterprise launch ever."

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Windows Server 2008 RTMs in early February

The early February RTM means that the long-awaited server operating system will be available for the big Los Angeles event. Visual Studio 2008 is already out. Microsoft last week said SQL Server 2008 has slipped into the third quarter. Previously, the company said the database would be available in the second quarter. Microsoft has also promised to deliver its new database release in 36 to 48 months going forward. SQL Server 2003 shipped in November of that year.

For partners, the product triad, as is the case with any major upgrade, offers big migration and customization opportunities.

Hardware original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are banking that Windows Server 2008 will demonstrate enterprise-class capabilities. NEC America, in particular, is touting the operating system's dynamic partitioning that will allow enterprise partners to show mainframe-class performance in distributed systems. That partitioning will let enterprises dynamically grow workloads without rebooting hardware or needing to resort to virtualization.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PSI is building mainframe-class machines with Itanium-based NEC servers, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server as building blocks.

For them, dynamic partitioning is a huge deal, said Christian Reilly, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing for PSI.

"Imagine when CPUs in memory are able to be dynamically replaced with the operating system and SQL Server still running. If you're a typical online retailer with accounting hammering away at SQL Server all day, and in the morning thousands of users coming online, it would be nice to dynamically add CPUs in memory to that running system with zero downtime," Reilly said. "And if you have any hardware issues, it will dynamically swap CPUs in memory, replace failing components.".

As with any upgrade or migration, there will be some sore points. For example, Mike Drips, a Folsom, Calif.-based consultant, said compatibility issues will crop up.

"Visual Studio 2008 probably could have been a patch to Visual Studio 2005. It talks to the .NET framework 3.5, which no one will use because nothing else is compatible. The word is it's fine to use VS 2008, but keep using Framework 3.0 or you're in trouble," Drips said.

The good news here is that there will be plenty of opportunity for solution providers and enterprise integrators proficient at easing or working around compatibility issues for early adopters. The bad news is that the rocky economic picture, and fear of migration issues, might keep companies from adopting the new technologies.

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