Forget XP, Microsoft Gets Ready for Windows .Net

The release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP desktop operating system

and all its hype has made for a tough act to follow, but it isn't

slowing the software maker as it forges ahead with the release of its

next big operating system, this time for servers.

The company will make available this month the third beta version of

the Windows .Net Server, the successor to Windows 2000, Microsoft's

server operating system that is just now beginning to gain acceptance

in the corporate market. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software

Architect Bill Gates made the announcement during the opening keynote

at Comdex here Sunday.

Aside from a branding crisis that has left the server software without

a solid name -- morphing from its code name Whistler, to Windows 2002

Server, to its latest moniker Windows .Net Server -- Microsoft hasn't

done much to promote the new software compared to the multimillion

dollar campaign behind Windows XP.

Some analysts say Windows .Net hasn't attracted the same attention as

its desktop counterpart because there are few customers that will see

the need to upgrade. The operating system's release, expected in the

next six months according to company executives, comes just as

corporate customers struggle with the move to Windows 2000.

"It's clear from our survey data that users are still trying to adopt

Windows 2000," said Dan Kusnetzky, an operating systems analyst with

International Data Corp. "The more likely outcome is that Microsoft

will release Windows .Net, and companies will buy small quantities of

it for test purposes and continue with their Windows 2000 roll out."

Gartner Inc. analyst Tom Bittman wrote in a research note in June

that "the Windows .NET Server ... should be considered a branding

change, not a fundamental technology change."

Microsoft contends that Windows .Net is everything its predecessor is,

sharing the same operating system kernel, but one that will do a whole

lot more, mainly in regards to new technology built into the software

that will facilitate Microsoft's vision for building and distributing

XML (Extensible Markup Languages) Web services.

New features in Windows.Net address some of the issues that customers

have had with Windows 2000, according to Rob Enderle, an analyst with

Giga Information Group. Some improvements he noted include the ability

to maintain the software remotely and install it with less hassle. It

will also have the .Net Framework and the Passport authentication

service built in, enabling easy adoption as Microsoft unveils more .Net


Most importantly, Microsoft and Enderle say, Windows.Net will be a much

more secure operating system than its predecessors. Gates explained

Sunday how the new software will ship with all of its bells and

whistles turned off in the default settings.

"That has been a problem with previous products from Microsoft. The out-

of-the-box products had a bunch of holes," Enderle said. "The end

result was there were a number of breaches. Microsoft is now taking no

risks, and making it secure out of the box."

Windows 2000, for instances, was vulnerable to security breaches

because many of the more advanced features included with the server

operating system were activated from the minute the software was

installed on a system. Because customers often never used some of those

default features, it left the software vulnerable.

"In the past Microsoft has always chosen a balance point that was more

on the side of ease of use and less on the side of security," Kusnetzky

said, noting that the added features were intended to increase the ease

of use, but left the software open to security risks.

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