25 April 2003 Microsoft has finally released its thrice-delayed Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems — the central element in the company’s emerging ‘software stack’.
At the same time, the company also unveiled its Microsoft Visual Studio .Net 2003 suite of software development tools, with which organisations will build web services and other applications that will run on the new operating systems. Microsoft also showcased the 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000, which will run on 64-bit Windows Server 2003, which has been optimised for the Intel Itanium and AMD Opteron microprocessor platforms.
The underlying intention of the product launch — and the re-branding of some dozen products under the Windows Server moniker — is to re-position the company as an enterprise software stack supplier against Sun Microsystems and IBM.
Microsoft claims that Windows Server 2003 is as reliable and scalable as any Unix operating system — and an easier and, therefore, cheaper product to manage than Linux. However, the launch was principally aimed at the mass of Windows NT 4.0 users who have resolutely refused to upgrade.
Enhancements on Windows Server 2003 include simplified management features for Active Directory; easier and quicker server configuration, particularly for blade servers; easier roll-out of software with Software Update Services (SUS); and improved clustering and scalability.
“This is one of the most significant pieces of work we have ever done and certainly the most significant piece of work we have done in terms of IT professionals and the data centre,” said CEO Steve Ballmer at the official launch in San Francisco, California.
Microsoft is also releasing versions that are more closely aligned to particular organisations and applications. These include the Web Edition and a package specifically for small businesses, which will be released later in the year.
The launch was accompanied by testimonials from early adopters in both the UK and US, including the London Stock Exchange, retailer Tesco.com and transport, leisure and marine container leasing company Sea Containers.