It must be a little like trudging your furry feet all the way from the Shire to Mordor, only to see that big damn gate manned by a thousand orcs who look like Paul Venezia after a hard night drinking. You're filled with despair, like that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach after writing about little else besides Vista this and Vista that for the last six months, only to realize that I'm sitting down in my well-worn lab chair, about to install Beta 3 of Longhorn.
I can just see it coming. Longhorn RTM. Longhorn shrink. Planning for Longhorn, installing Longhorn, finding a new name for Longhorn. Explaining to my mom why Longhorn has nothing to do with John Wayne. Enterprise Longhorn, SMB Longhorn, storage Longhorn, never an Xbox Longhorn. The prison blues after pummeling my neighbor for offering me some barbequed, medium-rare Longhorn. Maybe I'll do a Wikipedia entry arguing a case for turning Longhorn into a synonym for inevitable.
But I'm a technology journalist: determined like a squirrel, tough like a metrosexual. My face may be long enough to use as a scarf, but I'm tasked to look at Longhorn, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
First, though, I'm not going to talk much about installation since it was largely uneventful and because Beta 3 install foibles rarely mean anything in the real world anyway.
What I will talk about is stuff you'd better start boning up on now if it looks like Long is going to Horn in on your business in the semi-near-term future. First, there's kwoss, or QoS, or quality of service. The Micros have built this into Longhorn, which means several things. First, if you aren't using it now, you probably will be. It's just too good to pass up. Everybody has an app or two whose bandwidth they'd feel better about if it were protected. And now, instead of digging around your Misc. Cables box to find a serial cable so that you can connect to some switch interface and set 802.1q values, Microsoft is providing a happy little management interface to let you do it all from your desk. Easy peasey, keep your feet up and sip your coffee.
The complexities might start if you already are using QoS on the switch side. Theoretically, running Longhorn QoS shouldn't interfere with anything you might have set on the switch side — but when you depend on theoretical, you make an ass out of Theo and Huxtable. Or something like that. Bottom line: It's going to mean testing. We're building a little switch bank here at the New Jersey Lab of Tech ADD, consisting of Cisco, Linksys, Dell, and Netgear switches. These will get QoS settings that will want to protect different traffic streams than the ones we set up on our Longhorn box. The result should show what happens when these two conflict. Something I'll get into deeply just as soon as I can't think of anything else to do on a Saturday.