Microsoft has completed the final code for its Windows Server 2003 operating system software, focusing heavily on performance improvements and total cost of ownership (TCO).
Analysts have advised NT4 users to go straight to this release, but said Microsoft would have to work harder to convince Windows 2000 server customers that an upgrade would be worth the trouble.
The company announced the release to manufacture for Windows 2003 Server at the end of last week, and claimed it to be its most reliable and secure operating system to date.
Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows server division, claimed the product showed significant improvements on both NT4 and Windows Server 2000.
"We're seeing customers report a 40 per cent improvement in stability," he said.
Microsoft also said that NT4 customers would see the biggest benefits in migrating over, with a 50 per cent reduction in the TCO.
But Gary Barnett, research director at analyst Ovum, warned: "People don't like doing server upgrades.It has to be tangibly better to offset the perceived risk associated with making those infrastructure changes."
If Microsoft successfully addresses the issue of reliability it will see more adoption both in the mid-range and high-end environment, Barnett added.
The simultaneous release of the Visual Studio .Net 2003 developer toolkit at the full launch on 24 April will allow Windows Server 2003 to be a web services platform, said Veghte.
The final code for Microsoft's 64bit SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition was also released to manufacturing, ahead of its launch at the same time as Windows Server.
In line with its Trustworthy Computing initiative, Microsoft said it has spent $200m (£127m) training 13,000 Windows developers on new security processes and reviewing the code.
There will be seven versions of Windows Server 2003. The datacentre and enterprise editions will both also come in a 64bit Itanium 2 version, in addition to a standard edition, a web edition and a small business server, which is due in the third quarter of this year.
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