Hey there. My name is David Lowe and I'm a senior product manager in the Windows Server group, responsible for marketing and evangelism around Windows Server Code Name "Longhorn".
One of the things we get asked a lot is when Longhorn Server will be released and when people will be able to get their hands on a new pre-release build. In fact, as Patrick mentions below, this was also a frequently asked question for Jim Allchin, co-president of our Platforms, Products and Services division, when he met with journalists, bloggers and analysts this week, so we thought it was time to put our cards on the table.
The only time we've done any kind of "semi-public" preview release was when we distributed Build 5219 to PDC attendees last September. In addition, customers who are part of our Technical Beta program also got to see Build 5270 in December. We do provide more regular drops to OEMs, partners and Technology Adoption Program customers, but they are private programs.
"That's all well and good, but when can *I* get to see it?" you cry. Well, you won't have to wait too much longer. We're planning to kick off a Customer Technology Preview (CTP) program to coincide with Beta 2, which will arrive in the second quarter of this year. That means all MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be able to download it and start playing with fun new things like Network Access Protection, Server Core, IIS 7.0, Terminal Services Gateway and Remote Applications. You'll also get to pair it with Windows Vista to see the performance and reliability improvements we've made in our completely redesigned TCP/IP stack.
"So what happens after Beta 2?" you shout. We know that after you've seen Beta 2, you'll want to see more, so just like we've done with products like SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Vista, we'll start putting out those CTP releases on a more regular basis to keep your appetites whetted. That will allow us to get continuous feedback from you on our progress as we work our way up to Beta 3, which should appear before the end of this year with pretty much all features and roles in place.
We think it will be worth the wait.