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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

May 16, 2007 at 5:38 PM

WinHEC: Server trains run on time

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft Server General Manager Bill Laing reiterated the company’s schedule for regular releases of his division’s products over the next three years.

In his keynote presentation at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here today, Laing explained the strategy for refreshing Windows Server. And in a later interview, he discussed some fundamental differences between server and Windows client that contribute to the regular cadence of releases in one vs. the other’s less-predictable cycles.

“What we wanted to do was deliver to the industry every four or five years a major release and between those releases every two to three years, an update release,” Laing said in his speech. “There’s a lot of feedback from customers that they wanted this predictable rhythm, they didn’t want frequent change.”

He offered a specific roadmap for the next several beats in that rhythm: Windows Server 2008, a major one, is on track to release to manufacturing by the end of this year. “However,” Laing added, “quality is our No. 1 goal. We’ll maintain our quality bar before we release.”

Windows Home Server is also set to be available later this year.

In 2008, niche server products based on Server 2008 are on tap, including software for small and medium businesses, code named “Cougar” and “Centro,” respectively, and another version of Microsoft’s storage server.

In 2009, a second release of Windows Server 2008 is on the schedule.

I asked Laingm given the server and the client operating systems share a code base, how is his division able to stick to a schedule while client has struggled to do so? (Microsoft went five years between Windows XP and Vista, an interval executives have pledged not to repeat, but they also gave no insight into what might come next at this conference, a traditional venue for such information.)

Here’s Laing’s response:

They’re linked in the sense that the code is common, but they don’t have to be and haven’t been linked to actually deliver to the customer. The other thing I’d kind of reflect on is when you deliver a client system, it’s really an integrated experience that you’re delivering. An example would be one minute you might be listening to music, you might be editing a video, you might be typing e-mail, you may be doing your home accounts on a spreadsheet. People want all of that on a single, integrated system.

Servers are much more role-based, so it’s somewhat easier for us [in the Server Division] to advance different features at a different rate, which is probably the main way I think we are trying to drive to the train timetable. We say, the train’s going to leave on this date and if we can’t do an upgrade to active directory, [for example], in the next release, we’ll do it in the one after. …

And you know, our customers really do want the predictably, over features to a large extent, because they want to plan. And servers, it’s a bigger investment for companies. They’re a little more cautious in changing their infrastructure.

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