Microsoft Corporation on Tuesday announced the availability of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server Edition Beta 2, the long-awaited and now delayed final piece of the 32-bit Windows 2000 product line. Datacenter Server Beta 2 will be made available to Microsoft's partners, including hardware vendors, software developers, and the like. Additionally, Microsoft has announced a new Joint Development Program (JDP) for its leading partners, so that these companies can begin rolling out DataCenter Server as quickly as possible.

"The availability of Beta 2 and the launch of the Datacenter JDP is a key milestone toward completing the validation of all the elements of the Windows Datacenter Program,'' says Michel Gambier, the group product manager of Microsoft's Enterprise Server Marketing group. "Working closely with our industry partners, beta and JDP customers, our objective is not only to test the operating system, but also the Datacenter Hardware Compatibility Test and services framework of the program."

Datacenter Server targets the absolute highest-end of the server market, focusing on the needs of the most demanding enterprise customers. The Datacenter Server Program includes a platform validation process, which essentially takes the traditional Windows 2000 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) to the next level by certifying only certain PC systems as Datacenter Server compatible. Datacenter Server certified vendors will be able to offer customers a variety of services, including 24x7 support, guaranteed high availability, and more.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server supports up to 64 GB RAM, 32 processors, and other high-end scalability features. Microsoft says that Datacenter Server will ship sometime in "Summer 2000," not far off from the previously announced late June ship date