Microsoft Wednesday made available the final beta of Windows Server 2008 and said it is on track for shipment at a planned launch event at the end of February. Microsoft made Windows Server RC1 available for download as a 30-day free trial or for evaluation until June 30, 2008 if the user requests a product key. RC stands for "release candidate" and signifies the software is ready for a final beta test before shipment.
Microsoft said it is on target to ship the final pieces of Windows Server 2008 on or before a planned February 27 launch event in Los Angeles to introduce the server, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 (which has shipped). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated in July that those three products will form the backbone of the platform for building Web-based and online services.
It could be a rough road to customer adoption for Microsoft with Windows Server 2008. A recent survey of 687 IT professionals conducted by Network World showed 50% said they have no plans whatsoever to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 at any time after it launches in February.
RC1 is actually the second release candidate Microsoft has shipped for Windows Server 2008. RC0 was shipped September 20. While RC1 is feature complete, the Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) component has been removed from the server software. WSS was included in RC0.
Users can choose from five versions of Windows Server 2008, including x86 and x64 versions. The x64 versions include the first beta of Microsoft's new Hyper-V virtualization technology.
In addition, the Windows Server 2008 versions are available in a number of languages:
- Standard and Enterprise: Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish
- Datacenter and Web Server: English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish
- Itanium-Based Systems: English, French, German, and Japanese
Microsoft says more than 1.8 million users have obtained Windows Server 2008 evaluation code to date. In November, Microsoft outlined the pricing for the eight versions of Windows Server 2008.