It's a widely acknowledged fact in the software industry that we've got a pretty hot marketing machine here at Microsoft that is fueled by an endless stream of excellent products and creativity, but I've been thinking a lot recently about the "Windows Server System":  While this brand name is neatly consistent with the "Microsoft Office System" brand name from a marketing perspective, from a usage perspective it is much less so...

To illustrate the point, here are some examples of the Office System at work:

  1. When a user hits CTRL+C from Excel and CTRL+V into Powerpoint, the right things happen - The content is transformed into a dialect of the ubiquitous HTML or XML standards and transferred into your slide with formatting intact, or alternately, a Paste Options button appears in your workflow with helpful options that allow you to indicate your intent
  2. When installing elements of the Office System, they use the same installer technology that gives the admin a tremendous amount of control over the process
  3. They have nearly universal support for upgrading previous releases
  4. They use forward and backwards compatible file-formats that ease transitions between versions
  5. They have a very complete and consistent programming model
  6. Shared functionality is engineered into shared components
  7. Common and consistent UI design guidelines
  8. Unified help systems
  9. Unified product update procedures
  10. This list could go on and on because the Office System has been engineered as a complete system of applications for several versions now...

   The current suite of Windows Server System components do not yet exhibit this same level of integration and shared direction in my opinion.  CTRL+C'ing a bunch of computer objects from the AD Users and Computers Snap-In and CTRL+V'ing them into a directory on my hard drive doesn't result in a nifty Paste Options menu asking me what I intended to have happen...  I don't have the ubiquitous and intuitive CRUD across every object on the system through the consistent programmatic administration interface my heart aches for.    I recall once having gone through the exercise of installing the majority of Windows Server System components and Microsoft Business Solutions applications onto an SBS2003 server and ending up with no fewer than 7 instances of MSDE and SQL that all had to have the SQL patches applied to them separately.  Half of the databases had backup models that were not compatible with NTBackup, and that test machine must've had the worlds most fragile port 80, not to mention the half-dozen IIS vServers it took to get everything working on a single host!

   There's a lot going on at Microsoft to achieve a much improved level of consistency and operational harmony\efficiency\simplicity between the various components of the Windows Server System, and to tell the truth, I'm not super-clear on what's public and what is not so I won't go into detail, but I'd like to hear what kinds of things you would suggest be included in a clear articulation of the the kind of engineering substance behind the Windows Server System Logo that you'd like to see.  I'm not suggesting a server system designed by committee, but I'd love to hear what kinds of great ideas the community can add to the discussion in the hopes of arriving at what the user actually wanted in a more direct fashion.

 

-Bryce