Microsoft ships Windows Server 2008 RC1

Microsoft ships Windows Server 2008 RC1

Release candidate 1 of the Windows Server 2008 operating system is now available for download

Microsoft today made release candidate 1 (RC1) of Windows Server 2008 operating system (OS) available for download from its website.

Experts urged enterprise IT managers interested in migrating from Windows 2003 to not only evaluate RC1 themselves, but also to seek assurances from independent software vendors (ISVs) that they will test their applications against RC1 to ensure compatibility with the final release of WS08.

"As we progress towards the final release candidate, RC1 indicates to the public that we feel the code is ready to be evaluated," said Microsoft senior technical product manager in the Windows Server division, Ward Ralston.

RC1 is the last opportunity third party developers will have to point out bugs in the code. The full release to manufacturing (RTM) of WS08 will launch on 27th February 2008 alongside Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 - a day Microsoft has dubbed 'the largest enterprise launch in your history'.

Few enterprise customers will rush into deploying WS08 straight away, and many may hold off until Microsoft adds its long awaited Hyper-V server virtualisation tools to the operating system in late 2008.

"What may particularly interest Microsoft customers is what comes six months after that [27th February], which is the virtualisation stuff," said Neil Macehiter, of IT advisory firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton.

"Some of the most exciting stuff is not the new features and functions though, but the focus of the packaging, with different versions optimised for role based servers that will allow more tuning, optimisation and workload management," added Gartner analyst Phil Dawson. "Unfortunately, none of that packaging is in RC1 - you just get the whole thing."

Ralston said RC1 adds a new feature not present in RC0, namely Group Policy Preferences, formerly known as PolicyMaker Standard Edition and Policy Share Ma nager. These save administrators time by eliminating the need for single logons, startup scripts, drive mappings and copying registry settings to other computers.

"Group policy is effective at controlling server and client from a policy perspective, in as much as anything on the desktop or server can be controlled, but there were always a few things that were lacking, like the ability to set internet settings, control panel preferences, drive mappings, or printer or network shares. Group policy preferences addresses shores up those inequities" explained Ralston.