Windows Datacenter Server is Microsoft's answer to Unix and other mainframe technologies. The new version will be optimised for financial, telecommunication and Internet service provider (ISP) customer use, according to Microsoft.
Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition will not be available directly from Microsoft. It will instead be sold through Microsoft's partner hardware vendors, including IBM, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Fujitsu.
The new product is not designed to replace Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. The Limited Edition upgrade will offer more power to high-end enterprise clients, Conway said.
One analyst speculated that Microsoft would use this release to expand its Windows Datacenter Server line to appeal to mid-range customers. The software is currently aimed at high-end servers and comes bundled with an array of services. "It's a fairly significant offering, both in what it does and what it costs," said John Enck, senior research director for Gartner. He estimated that implementations generally cost at least $500,000 (£341,600).
Conway said the Limited Edition release would be aimed at Microsoft's "highest-end clients". For users who require less firepower than the Datacenter Sever software, Microsoft offers Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Conway said.
Microsoft has committed to a release "early" in the first half of 2002, which could mean quite soon after the new year. "We're very optimistic for the first quarter," Conway said.