In a Friday morning conference call with members of the technical press, Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of the Windows Server Group, announced that the company completed development of Windows Server 2003 that morning and released the product to manufacturing. Veghte, clearly enthused about the milestone and eager to celebrate the event with his development team, provided a summary of the day's news, telling reporters that his day was off to a great start.

"I'm happy to announce that today, Windows Server 2003 is released to manufacturing," he said. "It's done. It was a pretty amazing process and an accomplishment I'm very proud of. This product represents the hard work of thousands of people across Microsoft and thousands of our partners. It's a tribute to their dedication and commitment and delivers a great value to our customers."

Veghte said that Windows 2003 is the highest-quality Windows Server release ever, representing more than 3 years of work from more than 5000 software developers. The product features more than 650 technology innovations and enhancements, he said.

Microsoft will launch Windows 2003, along with Visual Studio .NET 2003 and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition 64-bit, on April 24 in San Francisco. But the full product release will extend far beyond one date: Several components--including the company's Real-Time Communications (RTC) Server (code-named Greenwich), Windows Rights Management Services (RMS), SharePoint Services for Windows Server 2003, and several others--will ship in the months after the initial Windows 2003 release. Details are forthcoming, Veghte said. "I look at this release as the foundation of a comprehensive and integrated platform that will lower costs and increase efficiency for our customers. Microsoft is an innovation engine, but right now, we are just celebrating this milestone."