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Microsoft Changes OS Name to Windows Server 2003

Microsoft on Thursday formally changed the name of its next server operating system, which is due to ship in April, from Windows .NET Server 2003 to Windows Server 2003.

It's the fifth name for the operating system in the last two years and the most visible evidence of Microsoft's ongoing struggle to find the right way to market and brand the .NET technology it is building into most of its enterprise products.

"The next version of Windows Server will be formally called Windows Server 2003," the company wrote Wednesday in a pre-announcement memo to partners. "The reason for this is to simplify the product's naming and reconcile it with our branding strategy for .NET."

The server will carry a new "Microsoft .NET Connected" logo to convey the presence of an included .NET Framework and other .NET enhancements. The logo will also be used on other Microsoft products and will be available for partners to use, according to the memo.

Microsoft took pains in the partner e-mail to prevent partners from getting the impression that Microsoft is downplaying the importance of .NET, although the company acknowledged that .NET is only "one of several major enhancements in Windows Server 2003."

In a FAQ section at the end of the memo, Microsoft chose to field the question, "Is this an indication that Microsoft is backing away from .NET?" The answer: "Quite the opposite … with integration of the Microsoft .NET Framework, UDDI services, and other XML Web services support [Windows Server 2003] has set the industry bar for Web service development and performance."

One of the most hyped improvements of Windows Server 2003, .NET has generated little excitement among potential customers of the OS. Instead, user enthusiasm seems to be concentrated on Trustworthy Computing-related security improvements, Active Directory enhancements and IIS improvements.

The product started out with the code-name "Whistler," a code-name it shared with the client operating system Windows XP. Originally it was supposed to ship a few months after Windows XP in early 2002. The January Trustworthy Computing memo and resulting code scrub pushed the OS release back by about a year. Microsoft briefly called the OS Windows 2002 before inserting the .NET name to make it Windows .NET Server in the spring of 2002. The name changed to Windows .NET Server 2003 in late August.

The removal of .NET from the name follows a speech by Bill Gates in which Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect mused that Microsoft had probably caused confusion by using .NET in so many product names. Microsoft called its family of back-end servers such as SQL Server and Exchange Server the .NET Enterprise Servers back in 2000 before much .NET enabling had taken place. The company also tacked the name onto its Visual Studio .NET suite of developer tools.

According to the partner memo, Microsoft remains on schedule for an April launch.

The name on Microsoft's homepage for the new server was changed as of Thursday morning to Windows Server 2003.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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