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July 24, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft to Announce Windows .NET Server RC1
- AOL Reneges on AIM Interoperability Promise
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3. CONTACT US
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1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Microsoft will announce Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) Release Candidate 1 (RC1) Wednesday, the company told me, and will issue the milestone to beta testers on Thursday. Win.NET Server is the oft-delayed follow-up to Windows 2000 Server and the server companion to Windows XP, which shipped last fall. Microsoft says it expects to ship Win.NET Server by the end of the year and deliver it to customers in early 2003.
"Windows .NET Server is a bloody good Windows 2000 version," said Cliff Reeves, Microsoft's vice president of Product Management for Windows .NET Server, at a recent reviewers' workshop for the product. "That's the basic Zen of what it is. It's all the things we learned, all the ideas encapsulated in a whole series of improvements. It's more secure, more manageable, more performance, more scalable."
Microsoft tells me that the RC1 release is virtually feature complete, although a few features will be added between now and RC2, which is due in a few months. Win.NET Server includes technology to accelerate server and Active Directory (AD) deployments; dramatically improved migration tools (especially for NT upgraders); a best-of-breed application server; a new Group Policy Management Console; improved file and print services; taskand role-based management tools; numerous security improvements, including various feature lock-downs; dramatic performance improvements when compared to Win2K Server on the same hardware; a Volume Shadow Copies feature that stores file snapshots; and enhancements to every subsystem imaginable, including Windows Media Services (WMS), Microsoft IIS, and Windows Terminal Services.
I'll have two Win.NET Server RC1 reviews available soon on the SuperSite for Windows. My first review, which will appear tomorrow, will feature a lengthy overview of the product, discussing the many changes customers can expect in this release. The second review, available in a few weeks, will be a hands-on examination of the final RC1 code.
Despite the fact that a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) condition of the AOL Time Warner merger stipulated that the company open up its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) network to the competition, AOL revealed this week that it has no plans to do so. Instead, the company says, it will now focus on alternative ways to achieve interoperability between AIM and non-AOL networks, citing its recent deal with Apple Computer, which will be the first company other than AOL to ship an AIM-compatible chat client. "While \[the AOL/Apple agreement\] is not the kind of server-to-server interoperability we and others have looked at, it does represent a way forward that is available now to allow AIM users and users of other communities to exchange messages conveniently," an AOL spokeswoman said this week.
AOL's agreement with the FTC stipulated that the company open up the AIM network to MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and other competitors, allowing users of these widely used but incompatible networks to exchange text messages, files, and other data with AIM users. The agreement came after AOL's competitors, including Microsoft, complained to the FTC, stating that the AOL Time Warner merger shouldn't be approved until AOL opened up AIM. Before the complaint, Microsoft had worked to let MSN Messenger users access AIM's user base, but AOL shut out Microsoft several times.
AOL says that it must renege on its interoperability promise because of changing market conditions and the technical difficulty of the undertaking. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but if the task was a condition of the merger, and one AOL openly agreed to, then AOL should be forced to comply. If the government can come down hard on Microsoft for not honoring its legal agreements, it can—and should—come down equally hard on AOL for what is obviously a far more gratuitous violation.
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