Today at Microsoft WinHEC, Bill Gates announced the Beta 2 releases of Windows Vista, Windows Server "Longhorn" and the 2007 Microsoft Office system and customers, partners and technical reviewers can barely contain their excitement over the new features and enhancements in each of the products.

We got to see some really cool demos this morning. First of all, in Bill's keynote, we saw how searching for files from a Windows Vista client instantly calls up documents indexed on Windows Server "Longhorn" network shares. We also got to see how a remote worker could seamlessly access and run applications located on a corporate network as if they were physically installed on her local machine. Bob Muglia told us more about the product and kept the cool factor high with a demo of the new Server Manager administrative tool, which replaces and integrates a number of previous utilities to provide centralized installation, configuration, monitoring and maintenance of server roles and features.

I actually find it difficult to stop gushing about Server Manager - in fact, I think I might even have a crush on it (remember kids - love your servers, but don't *love* your servers). Server Manager makes use of some very cool technology that has been baked in at the heart of every server role. Each role has been redesigned to expose greater granularity in how the role services can be installed and configured. For example, instead of having a choice of "install IIS" or "don't install IIS", you can pick and choose among over 40 individually selectable IIS components to configure exactly the Web server you want, not just one that we want. And if you want to install multiple roles on a server, the Add Role Wizard figures out for you what the dependencies are and in what order the roles should be installed - you can add multiple roles at once and not even need a reboot.

Of course, IIS 7.0 is another area where we've made huge advancements. Not only can you configure the server the way you want, but you can administer it the way you want too. In fact, you can have other people administer it for you through the new delegated administration feature. That way you can allow site managers to make changes on their own sites instead of calling you up at 2am with niggly little requests. And if you want to add functionality to a site (such as a custom request handler), you don't have to install some new ISAPI extension on the server - the modular configuration and isolated application model allows you to simply upload some .NET code (just as you would with any ASP.NET page) and your new functionality will be instantly available. Hurrah! Learn more from the IIS honchos at their new community site.

It's been a long day already and I could go on and on here, but the conference will be over for the day soon and I'm being kicked out of the staff room. However, I'm not the only one with good things to say about Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 2. Check out these reviews from eWeek and PC Magazine. They love us too :-)

 

David.