Microsoft used its Professional Developers Conference earlier this month to outline details of the forthcoming Windows Server 'Longhorn' product, designed for high-end business use.
Key features will include centralised deployment and management of applications, self-healing capabilities, and network protection against rogue handhelds.
Bob Muglia, Microsoft's senior vice-president for the Windows Server Division, said security would be a key feature for Longhorn Server.
"A new secure-at-install feature means that when an IT administrator installs a new server role, the system will dynamically check for security updates for that particular role and make sure that the latest vulnerabilities are patched during installation," he said.
In addition, the system will fix itself on the fly, if, for example, there is a bad sector on a disk or a CPU that is exhibiting a high rate of self correcting errors. IT professionals can also perform registry and file system operations in a transactional manner - meaning errors that occur in the system can be rolled back to a known good state - a feature found in the Windows XP operating system.
Windows Server Longhorn will feature centralised deployment and management of applications, so users get the latest version of an application dynamically delivered to their desktop when they connect.
Another new feature called Network Access Protection prevents unhealthy devices from accessing the network. "Any time a machine connects to the network, locally or remotely, Windows Server Longhorn can do a health check to make sure that a particular desktop or laptop has the proper security patches, virus signatures, firewall and so on," said Muglia.
For the first time, Windows Server Longhorn will offer a unified Web platform integrating Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0, ASP.NET, Windows Communications Platform and Windows SharePoint Services.
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The changes in Windows Server
Microsoft's Bob Muglia said the firm will make strategic changes to the Windows Server platform over the next five to 10 years, to help its users and their partners.
- It will reorganise the server product range so that each edition is targeted better at particular "workloads".
- Develop Windows Server as an application platform so businesses can use distributed applications. It will use message queuing, transactions, and web services.
- Develop its storage management technology to enable customers to use "intelligent distributed storage".
- Create a system to allow users to gain access to information securely regardless of their location. This will be "policy-based" so branch offices and remote workers can get the same level of service as headquarters.
- Windows servers will address the cost of management by using "self-managing dynamic systems". Few details are yet available on this.