Microsoft today unveiled Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate 1 and revealed some of the partner festivities for the February marketing celebrations of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008:
Reaching a major milestone in development, Microsoft Corp. today made available the Windows Server 2008 release candidate one (RC1) for customers to download and evaluate. In addition, Microsoft committed more than $150 million (U.S.) worldwide for outreach and demand generation to IT professionals and developers, and disclosed additional details and partner programs in preparation for the “Heroes Happen Here” launch events, beginning on Feb. 27, 2008, in Los Angeles. The launch features Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, and the theme is focused on celebrating the incredible work that IT professionals and developers do to deliver heroic results to their organizations, colleagues and customers.
“Heroes Happen Here” seems a trifle wacky, but what the heck, it’s just marketing and if you care, there are more details by following the link.
As for Windows Server 2008, it is scheduled to be released to manufacturing (RTM) by the Feb. 27 launch event and RC1 is generally available for tire kicking at http://www.microsoft.com/ws08eval. Also interesting is the new and revised landscape of software certification programs for Windows Server 2008:
Based on its active solicitation of partner and customer feedback throughout the product development cycle, Microsoft has re-engineered its software certification program to help partners deliver solutions that customers can immediately deploy with confidence on Windows Server 2008.
To help partners prioritize application compatibility with the new platform, Microsoft created the “Works with Windows Server 2008” program and free supporting test tools. The tools help partners ensure an application delivers a predictable experience, while giving customers the first-ever industry-standard test tools gauging an application’s compatibility with the Windows Server 2008 operating system.
Partners whose applications pass the “Works with” tests can submit test results to an authorized test vendor for independent validation, creating a stepping stone toward “Certified for Windows Server 2008” status. Certification represents a higher technical bar addressing security, reliability, stability, Windows fundamentals and availability, in addition to basic compatibility.
Already, more than 300 partners have enrolled applications in the Microsoft Early Access Program supporting software certification and “Works with” validation. Partners and customers have downloaded well over 5,000 copies of the software certification program test tools from http://www.innovateonwindowsserver.com/resources.aspx since July.
I’m not going to get into the nuances of these programs for ISVs, but the certification requirements will be familiar to anyone who certified for Windows Server 2003 with some modifications (e.g. for Server Core), but Microsoft has thankfully ditched the tedious different certification levels (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter). The “Works with” specification seems like a rational subset although requiring that all executables be signed may cause some angst.