Windows Server 2008: Lamenting Longhorn

What could Microsoft learn from Linux? Jason Perlow takes a look at Windows Server 2008, and says that Microsoft should consider taking a page from its competition, the Linux distro vendors, and consider shortening the product release cycle to allow for more incremental, short term upgrades.

By the time this column sees the light of day, Windows Server 2008 will be RTM’ed — Released to Manufacturing. Oh joy.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I am one of the few Linux die-hards that actually LIKES Windows. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, it’s a disease. I’ve said it before, Windows is in my blood — I spent a lot of my early career doing Windows support and systems engineering at Fortune 500 companies, and I still use Windows as my primary productivity platform. I also feel that Windows Server is a perfectly good commodity computing operating system, if best practices for patching and keeping the systems maintained are applied.

Still, I don’t see a lot of big companies chomping at the bit to go upgrading to Windows Server 2008. Certainly, there are several things to like about the new release, such as improved security and disk encryption inherited from Windows Vista, a streamlined management interface, enhancements to clustering, built-in virtualization, integrated IIS 7.0, componentized installation, an optional” headless” operation mode and role-based configuration.

However, with the notable exception of the aforementioned Hyper-V virtualization (which, by the way, will eventually be available as a de-bundled separate product for the low price of about $28 and will be compatible with Xen-enabled Linux VM’s — very cool, although neither VMWare nor Citrix should be shuddering yet) all of these things are very incremental enhancements, and do not result in very compelling reasons for a quick mass adoption or migration to the latest version of the Server OS.

Frankly, and I hate to say it, there are a lot fewer reasons for wanting to go to Windows Server 2008 from Windows Server 2003 than there are to migrate to Windows Vista from Windows XP, which pretty much every pundit covering this industry would agree has been a less-than-stellar adoption.

Exchange 2007 doesn’t require Windows Server 2008 and neither does SQL Server 2008, which represents two of the three primary application server roles for the OS. IIS 7 does require Windows Server 2008, but it’s questionable if IIS 7 could be considered Windows Server 2008′s” killer app”. As with Vista, which also has no” Killer app” as of yet, it could take a long time before someone creates that super-compelling. NET application that absolutely requires Longhorn and IIS 7.

As we all know about server OS adoptions in large corporations, migrations and upgrades are measured in five to seven year cycles, and the current Windows Server migration hasn’t even peaked yet, as there are still many Windows 2000 Server boxes still in the field that are only now being displaced by Server 2003 — and this is being driven by the fact that” extended” Windows 2000 support will end in June of 2010. When Microsoft ends Windows 2003″ mainstream” support — which will not happen until at least sometime in 2010 — and with Extended Support dying in 2013, Server 2008 may eventually start to look attractive.

But three to five years from now is an awful long time away in the computer software industry, and you can bet that Linux — which is currently displacing a big chunk of the Midrange and Enterprise space that UNIX once reigned supreme — will also be chewing up more and more of that commodity server computing space as the management tools, compatibility and Windows interoperability of Linux and other Open Source software vastly improves. You can thank the most recent developments in European Commission-driven SAMBA/Microsoft agreement for much of that improvement.

Sure, there are controls and restrictions on how the SAMBA organization can receive that information, but for all practical purposes, many of the key barriers to compatibility and interoperability between Windows and Linux at the server networking level will be coming down. And that will translate into some smart CIOs thinking about moving some of those roles to Linux instead of Windows Server 2008.

Perhaps Microsoft should consider taking a page from its competition, the Linux distro vendors, and consider shortening the product release cycle to allow for more incremental, short term upgrades as we see with RHEL and SLES, and certainly as we see with much more frequency in community distros such as Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu. With Windows now becoming ostensibly more” modularized” through services such as Microsoft Update, multi-year waits between major release periods in order to add newer or improved functionality should become a thing of the past.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of years for everyone involved, to be sure. Whether Microsoft will able to maintain its dominance in the face of these challenges, or if Linux vendors and Open Source Software projects are able to take advantage of this opportunity to displace Windows market share in the commodity server OS space remains to be seen.

Comments on "Windows Server 2008: Lamenting Longhorn"


It’s been about five years since a major change to Windows 2003 and believe that in time the security enhancements and other features will lead to more Windows Server 2008/Longhorn deployment going forward, especially after Service Pack 1 is launched.


Hey Chuck. :) Well, remember that it’s only been since December of 2005 when Server 2003 R2 was released, and that was a major improvement from just a service pack. Thats just only a little over 2 years ago. Other than the Hyper-V, which is an indeed an excellent hypervisor technology, 2008 doesn’t seem to be that huge an improvement over 2003 R2.


If you consider Windows, it generates no recurring revenue for Microsoft and hence has to be “reissued” every few years so that users of existing versions will repurchase the latest and supposedly greatest version and keep Microsoft in business. Incremental updates don’t work unless you are receiving a recurring revenue stream (or giving something away for free).

I’m not familiar with current Microsoft licensing policies but I the same argument used to hold good for SQl and Server.


There is a classic gold rule: “each hardware architecture is at its best with a OS version announced on the equipment.” “Chaque equipement a été destiné pour une – deux OS versions et logiciel.”

I use Win XP Pro and Linux 10.0 on my old Gateway MX 6025 old laptop based on Win XP Pro and Linux RedHat 10.0.
I use another French Dell XPS M1210 laptop, running Win XP home edition on it.

Please take into consideration this hyperlink:
Reading it, you’ll find out that between the OS interface designers and the customers there is a gap.

Une divation:
I use Win XP home edition !
The NBackup/Restore Windows is too old.
Unfortunately, I have no sufficient money to buy Norton Ghost 12.0 or newer ! (http://dan.somnea.free.fr/2C/)
I bought NIS 2007 and NSR 2006 (Norton Save Restore ), from Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lille, in May 2007. NSR 2006 is faster and more complete than NBackup/NT surrogate.
Mais, cette divagation a été inutile !

I am not interested in trying it.
I do not intend to buy another laptop.
Les chiens aboient et la caravane passe.
Have you exploited the present H&S resources at the full-flegded scale? No? What a pity !
Have you tried SuSE,(K)Ubuntu, … official Linux licenses? No? What a pity once again !
Bien cordialement,
prof dr ing Dan Gheorghe Somnea, Bucarest, ROUMANIE


microsoft can achieve what you’re suggesting if it goes opensource.

Well I see no reason why any true die-hard linux person should even bother proffering any advice to microsoft about anything. I’m still pissed by their shrewd past conduct – OS2,lotus123,Sun-java…….

This article is (personally) irrelevant to the linux community


Well let’s hope MS will see the light. I see that MS Vista as the RIAA torrent problem. They both hit a wall they didn’t see coming at all. Now we’ll have to see if they evolve or try to fight the new wave.

If they evolve (modularity, fast releases, service oriented business), that’s a good thing for everyone. If they try to fight… well RIAA proved you can’t fight evolution.

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