Windows Server 2003 Released to Manufacturing

UPDATED Microsoft announced on Friday that Windows Server 2003 has gone gold as Redmond gears up for the official launch on April 24. The release to manufacturing means the code has been deemed final and OEMs may soon begin shipping systems running the new operating system.

Sporting build number 3790, evaluation versions of the final Windows Server 2003 code are now available for download by beta testers. Testers, however, will not receive full complimentary copies of the operating system as they do with most other Microsoft betas.

The first major server update since the release of Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 represents an important step forward for Microsoft. With the company struggling to keep hold of its enterprise market share, Windows Server 2003 will act as a conduit for numerous Microsoft technologies including .NET and Greenwich - Redmond's real-time communications platform.

Several add-on components to Windows Server 2003, including the Group Policy Management Console and Windows Team Services, will ship over the next six months, the company has said.

"I've been involved in the development of every release of Windows Server, and this is by far the most secure, most reliable, highest-performing server operating system we've ever built," said Dave Thompson, corporate vice president of the Windows Server Product Group at Microsoft.

"We've been proving the reliability and performance of Windows Server 2003 with the widest early adoption we've ever had. This has been a long but very productive road," said Thompson.

Plagued by delays, development of Windows Server 2003 has spanned close to three years. The new operating system was originally code-named Whistler Server and was developed in parallel to the client OS that became Windows XP. Microsoft went through four name changes before settling on the Windows Server 2003 designation in January.

Windows Server 2003 will ship in four iterations: Web Edition, Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, and a Datacenter Edition that will only be available through select OEMs. Microsoft announced pricing for each version early this month.

Registration has been opened for launch events showcasing the operating system to be held across the nation starting April 24. Attendees will receive evaluation versions of Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET 2003.

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