David Hamilton, director of Microsoft's Management Business Group, opened the first Microsoft Management Summit (formerly SMS and Windows 2000 User Conference) today in Las Vegas with a keynote address that highlighted the next Systems Management Server (SMS) release and other upcoming management initiatives. The company's next change-and-configuration-management server, SMS 2003 (previously code-named Topaz), will ship in late 2002, following the beta release this summer, Hamilton told me late yesterday.

"The biggest change for this release is mobile client support," Hamilton said. "On average, 30 percent of our customers' workforces are mobile, and that figure is rising every year." SMS 2003 will also support Windows CE and the Pocket PC products, a last-minute feature addition spurred by overwhelming customer requests. "Not only are Pocket PC devices out there in the workforce, but they are the way many people do business," Hamilton said. "They contain mission-critical data and need to be secure. We never intended to support the Pocket PC in this release, but decided it was a critical feature, so we've added it into our development effort. Because we added \[Windows CE\] at the end of the development cycle, however, this feature won't make the RTM \[release to manufacturing\] date. Instead, we'll ship it as an add-on 2 to 3 months later." SMS 2003 will also integrate with Active Directory (AD), if you have it, but will work fine as a standalone server, Hamilton noted.

Microsoft also revealed the fate of the Windows Update enterprise version, which is currently in beta under the name Windows Update Corporate. The company will release the free product this summer as Software Update Services. Microsoft will also release a free add-on for SMS 2.0, the SMS 2.0 Value Pack, which will add Windows Update-style functionality to SMS and offer a slightly more sophisticated set of functionality than Software Update Services offers. "Patching clients and servers is \[the\] most common usage scenario today for SMS 2.0," Hamilton said. "These administrators use Windows Update at home, and they like the way that works."