Microsoft Begins Buildup to Windows Server 2008 Release

— -- The long march to the release of Windows Server 2008, a.k.a. Longhorn Server, continued last week, as Microsoft Corp. made the first "release candidate" version available for downloading from its Web site.

Several IT managers who are testing the beta predecessors of Release Candidate 0 said they're largely impressed, though not without some reservations.

Robbie Roberts, IT manager at Windrush Frozen Foods Ltd. in Oxford, England, has been using the upcoming operating system in live applications for two months. "We were involved in the Windows Server 2003 rollout, and we had tons of [bug] problems," he said. "We absolutely expected tons of problems with Windows Server 2008. But -- hand on heart -- we've had none."

IT officials in Georgia's Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, said that Windows Server 2008 has made it easier to tighten security through steps such as locking down unused ports and preventing insecure systems from connecting to the county's network.

But, they added, there is still a lack of support for key third-party applications. As a result, the county doesn't expect to move most of those applications to the new operating system until a year from now, said Jay Terrell, deputy director of IT. "We're not rushing to put anything into production that would hurt our users," he noted.