One message was clear, Microsoft will not be forcing users to move to the new server and that products due for release over the next two or three years will remain compatible with Windows 2000. Windows NT users will find the next few years increasingly challenging as Microsoft moves on. However, they will be able to skip straight to Windows .net.
In his keynote speech, Robbie Ray Wright, Microsoft's director of the mobility group, demonstrated several products in the pipeline and showed the newly released and ill-fated Content Management Server 2002.
Even as the new platform was rolled out, Wright spoke about Jupiter, the code-name of a future product that will replace Biztalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server.
To placate users of this e-commerce range, Microsoft is promising a smooth upgrade to Jupiter and a generous licensing offer whereby any current server licences will be exchanged for a licence to all of Jupiter.
So owners of a Biztalk server are likely to find that they effectively get a free licence to the other two servers within the single Jupiter product. Owners of licences for all three servers will find their real estate increased to three Jupiter servers. However, this could change by the time Jupiter appears in 2003.
The product will be phased in two stages. The first will be a replacement for Biztalk which is due in the latter half of next year. The second, which covers the functions of the remaining servers, will appear early in 2004.
Wright spent time displaying the new features of the Outlook e-mail manager that will form a part of the Office 11 suite due for release next year. This offers a redesigned interface that allows more information to be displayed by arranging the directory structure, e-mail list and preview panes vertically.
An application programming interface (API) is being developed that will allow Web services to access and modify the contents of the calendar scheduler displayed through Outlook. For example when someone books a business trip the travel Web site will populate the user's calendar with booking details.
Microsoft played down the next version of the Windows desktop, code-named Longhorn, that will replace Windows XP. It said it was too far away from release to be able to talk about in detail.
Microsoft's platform plans
- Windows .net Server 2003 due April 2003
- Biztalk, Commerce Server and Content Management Server to be replaced by Jupiter e-commerce server platform starting end 2003.