ISVs play Catch-22 with Microsoft

If what we saw at Microsoft’s Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) last month is any indication, life is going to be very busy for ISVs and VARs over the next year or so.Where two years ago PDC was Longhorn Central with a liberal lacing of Yukon and Whidbey, this time we saw everything from the new Visual Studio (Whidbey, branded, which arrives next month) to Office 12 and Windows Vista (Longhorn, branded, arriving late next year) and the yet-unbranded Longhorn Server (arriving who knows when in 2007).
Although there weren’t any major outbursts of enthusiasm during the keynotes as there were at 2003’s conference (which seemed to puzzle some presenters), attendees seemed pleased with much of what they saw.
One thing that did get a reaction was the announcement that the IIS Metabase is officially dead in version 7. The Metabase holds the configuration information for the IIS server, and if it gets corrupted causes no end of grief.
In IIS 7 the server will be managed with nice, clean XML configuration files. Microsoft has also separated the services offered in IIS, now currently stuffed into a single dll, and built individual modules that can be loaded depending on the needs of individual Web servers, which should make the server perform better and be more secure. Yes, just like Apache. And if you hate the way one module works, you can replace it with another that suits your requirements. Microsoft demonstrated this by swapping in a directory listing module that displays thumbnails of files for the standard one that just shows file names.
To make a change in the Web server (say, removing unused services for security purposes, or changing the default home page), alter this file in a text editor, save it, and like magic the change happens. No rebooting. No restarting of services.
That demo did generate some enthusiasm from the crowd.
Of course, on the minus side, this feature also means that it’s easy to instantly wreak total havoc on a running site, and, if you didn’t have the wit to back up the old config. file before you fiddled with it, take the site down for hours while you fix your mess.
Moral: copy first, then fiddle.
But what keynoter Bob Muglia, senior vice- president of Windows Server, focused on first were enhancements to Windows Server 2003.
The interim release, called R2, will surface by the end of the year, and include features such as easier connectivity to SANs and new tools to help port Unix applications to Windows without having to do complete rewrites.
A new, more easily extensible Microsoft Management Console (MMC 3.0) will also arrive with R2, as will improved Distributed Files Services (DFS), Active Directory Federated Services (allows authentication of partners through AD) and other goodies.
But there’s a catch.
After R2 is released, it will be included in all new Windows 2003 servers, but to retrofit existing servers, users will either need to have Software Assurance or buy a whole new server license.
Either way, this is not a free update like a service pack. Instead, it’s the first of several opportunities for the channel.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree

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