Microsoft this morning alerted me to a schedule change for the next major Windows Server version, Windows Server 2008. Previously, the company had said that it would complete Windows 2008 by the end of calendar year 2007. Now, Microsoft says the OS will RTM (release to manufacturing) in the first quarter of 2008.

"In order to deliver a quality product to our customers and to meet the high quality bar Microsoft sets for itself, Windows Server 2008 is now slated to release to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008," a Microsoft representative told me. "This does not affect the joint Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 launch, scheduled for February 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA. The launch, as well as the launch events will remain on track."

It's still unclear whether Windows 2008 will be completed in time for the launch, but then none of the three products involved in the launch event were scheduled around the launch event anyway. Visual Studio 2008 is expected in final form by the end of 2007, while SQL Server 2008, like Windows 2008, presumably, won't ship until after the launch event.

Windows 2008 began life as Longhorn Server and was co-developed with Windows Vista. Both Windows 2008 and Vista saw their first beta releases way back in summer 2005, over two years ago, but Microsoft had always intended to continue Windows 2008 development well past the time when Vista was completed.