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The company said the delay is because its new "trustworthy computing" initiative - which calls for all software to be reviewed for security vulnerabilities - may cause modifications and additions to engineering processes.
Tom Bittman, an analyst at research company Gartner, said the increased focus on security wasn't the only reason for the delay. The software maker is trying to solidify the design of the .net architecture and kill any bugs, he claimed
"It's not as easy as they were hoping, and I think they're trying to do it right," said Bittman.
The new projected shipping date for Windows .net Server means it will be at least nine months behind the release of Windows XP, although both operating systems are based on the same source code.
"Clearly, they're going to still try to maintain a common code base, but the more that you separate, the more you have dual development issues," Bittman said. "For example, if they find a bug in XP, they also have to fix that in the libraries being developed for Windows .net Server."
Corporate users typically wait for the first service pack of new Microsoft operating systems before widespread deployment. The delay in launching Windows .net Server could push corporate deployment back into 2003 at the earliest. Service packs include all the security patches and critical updates since the product's launch.
Bittman said Gartner is advising clients that there is no need to wait for the service pack with Windows .net Server because of the incremental nature of most of the changes. "The way to see this is Windows 2000 was NT 5 and .net Server is NT 5.1," he said.
Corporate users may be more inclined to wait for the Windows XP service pack, since few have rushed to deploy the new desktop operating system on a company-wide basis.
In addition to the usual bug fixes and security patches, the first service pack for Windows XP will also incorporate any operating system changes called for under the agreement that Microsoft reached with the US Department of Justice in its antitrust fight.
The Windows XP service pack will also include enabling technologies for Tablet PCs, which are due outin 2003, and consumer-oriented features to help users access music, videos and photographs.