MICROSOFT SHIPS WINDOWS 2003

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."

MSDN CUSTOMERS, BETA TESTERS GET FINAL WINDOWS 2003 CODE

Late Friday, Microsoft made the Windows Server 2003 "gold," or release to manufacturing (RTM), code available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers and beta testers. MSDN Universal and Professional subscribers can now download Windows 2003, Web Edition; Windows 2003, Standard Edition; Windows 2003, Enterprise Edition; and Enterprise 64-Bit editions, as well as Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) and a customer-support and diagnostic toolset. Windows 2003 beta testers received access to 180-day time-limited versions of the final code; the editions they received depended on which editions they tested during the beta. Interestingly, Microsoft said that beta testers won't receive a retail copy of the final code, which is typically the case with the company's server beta programs.

"The Windows Server Product Development Team is pleased to announce the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (Build 3790)!" the company wrote in an email message to beta testers late Friday. "Microsoft officially signed off on this version March 28, 2003, and released the master media to our product manufacturing vendors."

Although Microsoft previously touted the Release Candidate 2 (RC2)-to-RTM upgrade path, the company alerted testers Friday that it no longer recommends that users perform this upgrade. "While upgrading from RC1 or RC2 to RTM is possible, it is not a supported scenario unless you have a pre-existing agreement with Microsoft to support your upgrades from beta to RTM," Microsoft told testers. "Note that Techbeta agreements do not include support for that upgrade path. Microsoft strongly recommends that you clean install \[the final\] build."