A first beta version of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition was planned to be available by the end of the year, but has slipped to March or April 2005. The final product release is still slated for late 2005, Microsoft's Rankich said.
A software development kit (SDK) for the new Windows Server version will be available late this week or next week, he said. The SDK gives third-party software makers and server vendors an early look at the products architecture. It will include a scheduler and an implementation of the MPI (Message Passing Interface) protocol, Rankich said
Microsoft hopes that by creating a standard HPC edition, it will simplify things for system administrators and software developers and make it easier to create Windows clusters. In addition to traditional server companies selling Linux and Unix systems, such as HP, IBM Corp. and Cray Inc., Microsoft will have to battle Apple Computer Inc., which is selling HPC systems based on its Xserve G5 servers.