Packaging changes introduced by Microsoft in Beta 2 of Windows XP look set to limit use of XP Server to small networks, and force larger customers to spend more money on XP Advanced Server. The changes are not yet final - according to Microsoft they "represent out current thinking about how we can better position our product offerings."
But you can see the direction of that thinking. Beta 2 sees the first introduction of a Server version of the XP code. Up until now Advanced Server, which is essentially a superset of Server, has, er, served. Server Beta 2 adds Sharepoint Team Services, "a new feature designed to enable workgroups and teams to share information," but the spec is dropped to two CPUs from four, and to four gigs of RAM from eight. It has Active Directory support on up to two domain controllers per forest, and Terminal Services for remote administration only.
Translation: the hardware changes are probably not wildly important, but if you want to have Active Directory on more than two servers on your network, you're shafted. If you want to use application mode Terminal Services, you're shafted too - go away and buy Advanced Server. The changes, we repeat, are not yet final, and Microsoft is soliciting feedback from testers on them. A little feedback from cost-conscious enterprise customers might not go amiss, either.
Menwhile at WinHEC yesterday senior VP Brian Valentine said that the company was considering shipping WinXP server in up to four versions. In addition to Datacenter, Advanced Server and Server, he said it might include something he referred to as a Web Blade, an edition of server aimed at small servers serving up HTML pages.
'Aha!' We thought. Microsoft has actually been considering this pretty hard, for quite a few months. We recall a mention of "web blades" in a presentation by Jim Ewel last November, although we didn't grasp what he was going on about at the time. We also got a tip off about the presence of something called "Blade" in the DDK for build 2446. In the suite types section there, Blade is listed as a configuration along with the other stuff you've all actually heard of.
Although actually, the full list is itself enlightening. It consists of Server, Workstation, Small Business, Enterprise, Back Office, Communications, Terminal, Small Business Restricted, Embedded, Datacenter, Single User, Personal and Blade. Quite a bit of scope for positioning shenanigans in that little lot, isn't there? ®