Whistler having an identity crisis

Microsoft Corp.'s server, formerly known as Whistler, is undergoing an identity crisis.

During his keynote presentation Tuesday at the TechEd developers show here, Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, announced amid several new product releases that the next generation of the company's server software will take on the name Windows.Net Server.

"This will be a big step forward in the .Net arena," Gates said, after giving developers a demonstration of the second beta version of Visual Studio.Net, a developer's software package that will be distributed to show attendees Wednesday.

But the news comes as a surprise to those who heralded the news of a similar announcement in April, when the company issued a statement that Whistler Server would be called Windows 2002 Server. That announcement was made during a Gartner Inc. Windows conference in Los Angeles. Group manager for Microsoft's .Net division, Barry Goffe, said the earlier naming of the server as Windows 2002 was news to him. After reviewing the company's own press release his only response was to shake his head. "Don't believe it," he noted.

The announcement wasn't a surprise to some attendees at the show.

"I heard internally that there was some push back from executives with the Windows 2002 name," said a source close to the announcement who wished to remain unnamed. "I suspect (Windows 2002) came from the product development side."

Packed with support for XML (extensible markup language), ASP.NET, the .Net Framework and other services such as Microsoft's authentication service Passport, the server software that will run corporate computer systems and data centers is due for release at the end of the year.

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