Windows Server 2008 RC1 Reaches the Masses

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The Devil's Advocate
Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate 1 is now publicly available.

But I've got to wonder about all this release candidate holiday joy—Exchange Server, Windows Server, Windows Vista and Windows XP—that Microsoft elves are preparing for the company's customers. Two weeks ago, Microsoft made Visual Studio 2008 available to developers, too.
What IT manager would pass up the chance to test new Microsoft products during the holidays instead of closing up the year's budget, partying with employees and taking well-deserved vacation time with family or friends? Ho, ho, ho. It's Steve "Developers! Developers! Developers!" Ballmer Claus bearing "Gifts! Gifts! Gifts!"

Microsoft's RC1 holiday cheer is sign that maybe, just maybe, Windows Server 2008 really will be available for its Feb. 27 launch. Maybe it's more than a sign. After months of noncommittal comments about the release, Microsoft today affirmed that the software would release to manufacturing before the launch date. There still remains the question of how widely available Windows Server 2008 would be on Feb. 27. My bet: Most customers won't get the software until second quarter.

The public RC1 also is signpost for Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista SP1 development, too. Windows client and Windows Server development milestones tend to occur in lockstep. IT organizations looking for a busy winter will get one, when Microsoft releases Windows Server 2008, Vista SP1 and XP SP3 around the same time.

My prediction: Microsoft will release too many important updates too closely together, delaying deployments of them all. Windows XP SP3 is the most important of the three products because so many darn businesses use the operating system. If there are break lights coming on for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 adoption, XP SP3 will be it.

Microsoft's theme for the Feb. 27 launch event, which includes SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, is "Heroes happen {here}"—and there is a supporting "marketing Website. These server guys must be unsung heroes, because who ever thinks of the folks manning the rack room as heroes of the enterprise. I fired up David Bowie song "Heroes" while writing this paragraph. "We can be heroes—just for one day," Bowie sings.

Seriously, I love themes with an aspirational quality. IT organizations should aspire to be heroes of the company. If not for the servers, where would any organization be? To support the "Heroes" theme, Microsoft has a share {your store}" Website, where IT employees can tell there story. The marketing campaign is well structured and remarkably clever, particularly considering the presumably staid target audience.

In a blog post today, Tina Couch, a Windows Server spokesperson, described the forthcoming server products' release as the "the company's largest enterprise launch in history," for which Microsoft is investing "a whopping $150 million+ worldwide for outreach and demand generation to IT Pros and developers." Surely that kind of investment can find, or perhaps make, more than a few IT heroes.

Link to the Windows Server 2008 RC.

I think this will hardly be noticed when Solaris, Linux are getting better and popular in servers... Still....

Good luck to Balmer on marketing this one
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