Microsoft and Industry Partners Gear Up for Biggest Enterprise Launch Wave in the Company’s History
Dec. 05, 2007
Microsoft delivers next milestone for highly anticipated Windows Server 2008, makes RC1 (release candidate one) ready for testing; industry readies for worldwide launch wave with “Heroes Happen Here” launch theme.

Editor's Note, Dec. 4, 2007 - Details about industry partner and IT professional training activities have been updated to correct minor inaccuracies in the release below.

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 5, 2007 — Reaching a major milestone in development, Microsoft Corp. today made available the Windows Server 2008 release candidate one (RC1) for customers to download and evaluate. In addition, Microsoft committed more than $150 million (U.S.) worldwide for outreach and demand generation to IT professionals and developers, and disclosed additional details and partner programs in preparation for the “Heroes Happen Here” launch events, beginning on Feb. 27, 2008, in Los Angeles. The launch features Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, and the theme is focused on celebrating the incredible work that IT professionals and developers do to deliver heroic results to their organizations, colleagues and customers.

“This is the largest enterprise launch in our history, and both Microsoft and many of our industry partners are making a significant investment in a worldwide rollout,” said Andy Lees, corporate vice president of the Server & Tools Marketing and Solutions Group at Microsoft. “The feedback from partners and customers on these three products has consistently been fantastic. Bringing customers and partners into the development process early helps enable us to deliver the best, most tested and proven new versions of these Microsoft products we’ve ever developed.”

Windows Server 2008 RC1

Windows Server 2008, which is scheduled to release to manufacturing (RTM) by the Feb. 27 launch event, reached the RC1 milestone today and is available to customers for download at http://www.microsoft.com/ws08eval. With RC1, Microsoft is enhancing Group Policy with Group Policy Preferences, formerly known as PolicyMaker Standard Edition and Policy Share Manager. As the code approaches final signoff, RC1 is one of the last opportunities for customers and partners to evaluate it and provide feedback. So far, more than 1.8 million customers have obtained Windows Server 2008 evaluation code.

“We like that Microsoft designs its technologies with integration in mind,” said Ralph Valenzisi, director of technology for Norwalk Public Schools. “We’re excited about the new security and management features in Windows Server 2008 that can help us increase our productivity and provide more consistent, reliable service to both our staff and students.”

Industry Partners Kick Off Windows Server 2008 Launch Wave

As the industry gears up for the new enterprise and developer platform, thousands of industry partners have been working with Microsoft on product testing and evaluation, and are currently developing new applications, device drivers, services and solutions. Partners are also participating in a multitude of training activities on the suite of products and working to train customers in preparation for the launch. More than 40 hardware and software partners have committed to supporting and participating in hundreds of events worldwide kicking off with the Feb. 27, 2008, launch event. Ten partners in particular — Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), CA, Citrix Systems Inc., Dell Inc., Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, Intel Corporation, Quest Software Inc., and Unisys Corp. — have already invested significant time and resources to be platinum sponsors of the upcoming launch, demonstrating their strong support for and excitement about Microsoft’s next-generation products. To date more than 140,000 IT professionals and developers have been trained on Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, and 3,100 certifications have been granted on Windows Server 2008.

“AMD and Microsoft have worked together throughout the development of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, ensuring that these products are optimized to leverage the new functionality in Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors,” said Earl Stahl, vice president of Software Development at AMD. “Supporting the ‘Heroes Happen Here’ launch is very important for us, demonstrating once again how our ongoing collaboration gives our customers the confidence to easily and efficiently connect their AMD hardware with Microsoft software.”

“HP understands infrastructure selection is critical to the success of IT applications and the business processes that depend on it,” said Scott Farrand, vice president, Industry Standard Server Software, HP. “HP has actively engaged with Microsoft for more than three years to ensure that customers can rely on HP technology, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 to build the IT infrastructure behind a more efficient and successful business.”

Tools to Improve the Partner and Customer Experience

Based on its active solicitation of partner and customer feedback throughout the product development cycle, Microsoft has re-engineered its software certification program to help partners deliver solutions that customers can immediately deploy with confidence on Windows Server 2008.

To help partners prioritize application compatibility with the new platform, Microsoft created the “Works with Windows Server 2008” program and free supporting test tools. The tools help partners ensure an application delivers a predictable experience, while giving customers the first-ever industry-standard test tools gauging an application’s compatibility with the Windows Server 2008 operating system.

Partners whose applications pass the “Works with” tests can submit test results to an authorized test vendor for independent validation, creating a stepping stone toward “Certified for Windows Server 2008” status. Certification represents a higher technical bar addressing security, reliability, stability, Windows fundamentals and availability, in addition to basic compatibility.

Already, more than 300 partners have enrolled applications in the Microsoft Early Access Program supporting software certification and “Works with” validation. Partners and customers have downloaded well over 5,000 copies of the software certification program test tools from http://www.innovateonwindowsserver.com/resources.aspx since July.

Microsoft also recently announced plans to make additional investments in the Visual Studio partner ecosystem. To provide better support for interoperability with other developer tools and cross-platform scenarios, Microsoft changed licensing terms, no longer limiting partners to building solutions only on top of Visual Studio for Windows and other Microsoft platforms. The licensing change will be effective for the release of Visual Studio 2008 and the Visual Studio 2008 Software Development Kit. In addition, Microsoft announced plans to create a shared source licensing program for premier-level partners in the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program. The program will provide these partners with the ability to view portions of the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment source code for debugging purposes and simplify the process of integrating their products with Visual Studio 2008.

As SQL Server 2008 moves into areas such as spatial data support and business intelligence, specialized partners are already adopting the technology to better meet the needs of their customers. For partners building applications for SQL Server 2008, new and innovative methods of product education are readily available. This includes resources available through the INNOVATE ON program as well as Academy Live, a managed webcast series that enables partners to connect with peers and subject matter experts in a virtual learning environment. In addition, SQL Server 2008 Virtual Labs, a new offering available on Microsoft TechNet, provides a deeper dive into specific areas of SQL Server 2008.

Heroes Happen Here

Partners that are committed to participating in the “Heroes Happen Here” launch wave include AMD, Avanade, BMC Software Inc., Business Objects, CA, Captaris Inc., Citrix Systems, CommVault Systems Inc., Compellent, CompuCom Systems Inc., Dell, Developer Express Inc., Digipede Technologies LLC, EMC Corp., Emulex Corp., Ensynch, Enterprise Infomatics Inc., Ericom Software, ESRI, Fujitsu, FullArmor Corp., Global Knowledge Training LLC, Hitachi, Hitachi Consulting, HP, IBM Corp., Infragistics, Intel, Kingston Technology Co., LeftHand Networks Inc., Lieberman Software Corp., Mimosa Systems Inc., NEC Corporation of America, Network Appliance Inc., NetPro Computing Inc., Neudesic LLC, New Atlanta Communications LLC, Novell Inc., Paul D. Sheriff Associates Inc., Quest Software, QuickStart Intelligence Inc., Seagate Technology LLC, Sun Microsystems Inc., Symantec Corp., Teamprise and Unisys. More information on the “Heroes Happen Here” launch wave is available at http://www.microsoft.com/heroeshappenhere/default.mspx.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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