Microsoft released on Wednesday new test versions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack, two highly anticipated technologies that are scheduled to be released early next year.
Microsoft also revealed partner resources to prepare customers for the release of the server OS, which the company plans to release to manufacturing on Feb. 27, 2008, the same day as a joint-launch event that also will promote SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008. Combined, the three mark Microsoft's major product release cycle for the year, although the products are not scheduled to be released simultaneously.
Vista SP1 is expected to be available around the same time, but in a two-part release, the company said on Wednesday. According to a post on the Windows Vista Team Blog, a stand-alone installer will be released to the Web in both x86 and x64 versions for the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese. About eight to 12 weeks after this release, all of the remaining Vista languages will be released in both x86 and x64 versions.
Both Windows Server 2008 and Vista SP1 are key releases for the business adoption of the Vista client OS as many companies have been awaiting the release of both its complementary server OS and first service pack to upgrade their desktops. Windows Server 2008 is an especially important technology for enterprise and business customers, who have been waiting for a major update to the OS for nearly five years.
Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate 1 (RC1), the follow-up to Release Candidate 0 in September, can now be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site. According to the company, more than 1.8 million customers have acquired the evaluation code for Windows Server 2008 to date. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 RC1 is available to users through the Microsoft Connect Web site.
Microsoft also has made changes to its Windows Server 2008 software certification program for partners, creating a "Works with Windows Server 2008" program and offering test tools so ISVs can test their applications to ensure they work reliably on the product. The program and tools are available online. Microsoft ran into trouble with Vista because many third-party software vendors didn't have applications ready for the OS in time, causing compatibility headaches for customers.
Partners whose applications pass the "Works with" tests can then submit test results to be validated for "Certified for Windows Server 2008" status, which has higher technical bars for achievement.