November 12, 2002 5:34 PM PST

Microsoft scraps server OS plans

Microsoft has scratched plans for a major overhaul to an upcoming version of its Windows operating system for servers, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has been working on delivering the next major desktop and server versions of Windows--code-named Longhorn--by late 2004. Although the desktop version of Longhorn is still expected within this time frame, a server version is not expected until 2005 or 2006, the company said.

Until Windows XP, the company had been releasing desktop and server versions of its business operating systems around the same time. With the latest change, Microsoft may have to grapple with customer confusion as it works to get its operating system release schedule back on track.

A Microsoft representative Tuesday confirmed that the next release of the company's server software "would follow the release of Windows.Net Server," yet essentially skip a generation to focus on the next version of Windows, code-named Blackcomb--initially planned as a successor to Longhorn.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver described the Longhorn-to-Blackcomb jump as "skipping a server release."

Many companies install Windows on desktop systems before server systems, said Silver, because of the complexity of Windows 2000 Server's Active Directory software.

"Server products are so complex, (simultaneous installation) may not always work out the way people hope," Silver said. "Maybe Microsoft has come to that realization, too."

Microsoft characterized the deadline change as something that customers would welcome.

"Another major Windows server release in the Longhorn time frame does not meet the needs of most of our customers," the representative said. The delay "is a response to what our customers are asking for."

Analysts expect the company's upcoming server software, .Net Server, to take off slowly because many businesses have either recently moved to Windows 2000 or are in the process of doing so. A majority of customers, then, would begin introducing .Net Server in late 2004--around the same time as the planned release of the Longhorn desktop and server software versions.

The most important feature of Longhorn disclosed so far will add support for new storage capabilities that could make it easier to find information on a corporate network. That same capability is expected to be part of the next version of Microsoft's SQL Sever database, code-named Yukon.

 

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