I don't know about you, but all the new toys that have come out of Redmond during the past few months have me a little overwhelmed. Euphoria sweeps over me each time a neat toy arrives in my proverbial mailbox. Right after I had a chance to play with the new Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, here came the next release of Office, appropriately code-named Office 10.

Then Beta 2 arrived from the Windows XP team. I'm dreaming about my IIS 6.0 server running on an Itanium 64-bit processor XP machine. If you're one of the lucky few who have this chip, I'm green with envy.

Now's the perfect time to talk about the new functions you can expect in IIS 6.0, which is included with XP. I'll try to stay within my nondisclosure agreement (NDA) and cover only material Microsoft has publicly released. There's much more to XP that's still covered by the NDA, but rumor has it the agreement will be lifted soon.

Managing application threads will be much easier in IIS 6.0 with Microsoft Management Console-based (MMC-based) point-and-click application tools. Another function Microsoft will probably include with XP is the ability to support remote Terminal Services sessions over IIS 6.0. For those Web server administrators who've never been exposed to desktop sessions within a Web server (a la Citrix), this could be new ground. Desktop support has its own set of challenges—moving to a common desktop shared by multiple users. And because all these functions are Web based, your desktop support folks need to be well versed in server support and vice versa.

XP Beta 2 is shipping to all Microsoft Certified Solution Provider (MCSP), Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), and TechNet Plus subscribers. If you aren't fortunate enough to enjoy the spoils of a "monthly box," you can sign up for the next Corporate Preview version of XP on Microsoft's Web site.

The XP Home and XP Professional versions are due to ship this fall, with Server and Advanced server following early next year. For a detailed review of the XP platform, see Paul Thurott's SuperSite for Windows.

http://www.winsupersite.com

Before I run out of space, I should discuss a new toy the XML folks have tossed our way. Faster than you can say license keys, here comes something that doesn't require a signed NDA—a publicly released version of Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Version 2.0 is now in release-candidate status, and you can download it from the MSDN site.