With the release of Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) Release Candidate 1 (RC1) finally behind it, Microsoft unexpectedly announced yesterday that the company would make the milestone build available for free to customers through the Win.NET Server Customer Preview Program (CPP). Under terms of the CPP, customers can download or order CD-ROM versions of Win.NET Enterprise Server (formerly Windows 2000 Advanced Server) RC1, which will expire 360 days after installation. Additionally, customers who choose the download option can access Windows .NET Standard Server (formerly Windows 2000 Server) as well.

"This product is rock-solid," says Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president. "We're delivering the features and improvements that our IT and developer audiences have told us they want most: improved security, greater reliability and better performance. Windows .NET Server is far easier to deploy, manage, and operate, and it includes a comprehensive set of Web application services that make it easy to build powerful, connected solutions quickly. This is the most customer-driven release of Windows Server ever."

The Win.NET Server CPP kit also includes a Win.NET Server Resource CD-ROM, a unique product key required for installation, and access to Web-based documentation and support newsgroups. For more information about the CPP, visit the Microsoft Web site.