Gates Demos Windows Server 2008, Home Server

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — While Microsoft chairman
Bill Gates chatted with the audience here at the Windows Hardware
Engineering Conference (WinHEC), at least one attendee was
wrestling with a balky Wi-Fi connection and a Windows XP crash
causing a locked-up laptop.

Back to work, Bill.

Technical difficulties aside, Gates’ confirmed in his keynote
speech what the company has already let slip to the public:
Longhorn Server is now officially called Windows Server 2008.

“I know it’s a surprise for us to pick something so
straightforward but it makes the most sense,” Gates joked about the
moniker for the software, which the public first saw in beta last

As part of a demonstration of Windows Server 2008, a product
manager showed how a laptop lacking a firewall and antivirus
software was denied access to the network. Windows Server 2008 will
have more than 4,000 policy options for administrators to enforce,
twice as many as Windows Server 2003.

Click for a look at the Windows Server 2008 GUI

Gates then introduced a demo of Windows Rally, a new consumer
technology designed to simplify home networking and adding new
devices to a home network. Rally is designed to be unobstrusive,
quietly setting up the channels, SSID (define) and IP addresses of devices.

All new devices are automatically discovered by the network and
added, including wireless multimedia transmitters and digital
cameras. During the demo, photos taken with a digital camera were
automatically downloaded to a server, then displayed in an
electronic photo display devices, with no user interaction at

In other news, Gates announced that Vista had surpassed 40
million units in its first 100 days of availability, double the
rate of sales of Windows XP when it launched in 2001. The 40
million figure shows continued momentum from Vista’s fast
at the beginning of the year.

For the more than 40 million homes with multiple PCs, Microsoft
demonstrated Windows Home Server, its aspirin for customers’
file-sharing headaches. Slated for a fall release, Windows Home
Server will be sold by OEM vendors such as HP and
off-brand system builders, as well.

In the Windows Home Server demo, Microsoft officials showed that
from the server console, the administrator (in this case, “dad”)
can monitor all of the computers on a network and manage them, such
as turning on a firewall or setting up regularly scheduled backups.
In a demonstration of 21st century parenting, the product manager
denied his son access to his music collection as punishment for
turning off the firewall.

Home Server will also do disk mirroring, so if the drive in your
computer dies, you can install a new physical drive and it will
build an entirely new image of your drive, complete with Windows,
applications and settings. No more reinstall headaches.

Home Server customers will get a free domain name from Windows
Live, which will allow users to access the entire network remotely.
So long as you have browser access, you will be able to access the
computers on the network to get and put files or manage the

Gates closed out the keynote by discussing where he thinks the
PC is headed. He discussed 64-bit migration, noting that thanks to
backwards compatibility capability, the task was managed
considerably better than previous moves to larger address

“Most of what’s being sold in server and client computers have
64-bit capability sitting, waiting and capable,” said Gates.
“Sixty-four bits allows us to have lots of memory. Many things we
used to think of as disk-based are now becoming memory-based.”

Microsoft is now working on more memory-based applications, such
as massive databases and business intelligence.

Gates also discussed unusual form factors for computers and
natural user interfaces. This included speech recognition via the
TellMe acquisition and a recent breakthrough at Microsoft in
recognizing Chinese and Japanese characters.

He also discussed VoIP (define) and unified communications, where Microsoft, Cisco
Systems and other networking vendors are duking it out.

“We don’t see the desk phone existing as a separate device in
the future,” said Gates. Finally, he discussed “The Live era,”
where many computing services are available over the Internet
instead of installing them on the local computer.

Gates’ act was followed by one of his successors, Craig Mundie,
chief research and strategy officer. Mundie, along with Ray Ozzie,
will take over for Gates next year in leading Microsoft’s software
strategy and design efforts.

Mundie talked of advances in medical devices, some of which were
funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“More and more, society’s biggest challenges –- health
care, the environment — may be some of the targets where we apply
these technologies next. There’s no field of science that can
advance in a material way without the aggressive use of these
technologies,” he said.

Article courtesy of

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