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All Windows All The Time

Gee, Microsoft sure knows how to corner the publicity scene when they want to, eh?

Hopefully you've digested the basics from the flood of server news from Redmond by now -- the security update for the current Windows Server 2003, the run-up to the 64-bit version of that software, and now the impending release of the beta for the next full release of Windows Server. That, of course, is not the Longhorn update that we'll be seeing sometime late next year if Microsoft holds to its schedule. Rather, it adds some functionality that Microsoft says it doesn't want to wait on that long. Among the key items are identity and access management features in Active Directory, called Federated Services, that let admins extend user control through Active Directory more easily out of the building and to business partners; improved storage management; and better Unix interoperability integrated into the OS. That last detail is a canny move by Microsoft; it needs weapons to convince IT managers considering switching off Unix to think about Windows instead of the more obvious move to open source.

Microsoft's goal with its server push is the same as Microsoft's goal always is -- dominant market share, preferably 100%, but certainly continued command of the market. Microsoft has that now: The most recent stats have various Windows server iterations firmly in first place in the market, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon. A decision such as the one to end free support for Windows 2000 (which may not have much effect on the desktop by now, but is certainly going to hit plenty of shops still running their server environment on Windows 2000) is part and parcel of that push. Support blackouts are SOP for Microsoft, of course; the company wants you to keep moving up in its food chain. And that is because you're more likely to make to switch to Linux in particular if you haven't gotten the new benefits in the newer Windows platforms. Linux is coming on, for sure, but it's not because Microsoft isn't making a strong case to go with Windows -- or stay with it -- for the server environment in enterprises of any size.