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Smart Management

You can count me as one of those people who's not always impressed by Microsoft's efforts to dominate markets by stuffing every piece of functional software it can find into its base systems. For instance, how does a media player have anything to do with an operating system? The answer, of course, is "it doesn't"--the OS controls the interaction of the software with the hardware, the media player shows you movie files. Apples and oranges: That media player could easily stand apart from the base Windows operating system, no matter how much smoke Microsoft blows to convince us otherwise.
But sometimes Microsoft is right on when it adds functionality to an operating system, and rolling out its new Server Manager in the newest beta of the upcoming Longhorn Server is a perfect example of that. Technically, does server management functionality stand outside of a server OS meant to simply regulate the flow of data in and out of your Windows-based servers? Maybe. But the ability to configure and provision those servers right from the base station is, to me, enough of a core functionality to justify its inclusion. This is an example of Microsoft working for the customer, something we may not always credit the company for when it seems to want to do nothing more than dominate the tech universe.

But never forget, Microsoft is a smart company. It didn't get where it is by forcing its needs on its customers...well, maybe it did. Not all the time, though. The smart folks at Redmond recognize the danger that a mature Linux market could mean to its ambitions on the server front. And they similarly recognize that the growth in well-executed server management packages is a primary factor that can tempt some of you readers out there to make the switch from Windows to Linux, or to a mix-and-match system. Windows Server still leads in server OS market share, and there's no way that Microsoft wants to give up that lead. The Server Manager just made it a lot easier for you to stay with Windows Server for a good while yet.