Microsoft is putting some of its crucial high-end technology into beta testing this week and is fine tuning critical development tools.
The company's Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition enters a second beta this week at 2,100 user sites, just as Proxy Server 2.0 enters beta testing. The Proxy Server beta software will be posted to the company's Web site later this week.
Microsoft is also holding a design preview tomorrow for the next version of its Microsoft Repository, a key tool for storing and managing software as it is being developed.
The enterprise edition of NT includes Microsoft's clustering technology, previously code-named Wolfpack, as well as message queuing and transaction server software for information-intensive environments. The new version of the popular operating system is being pushed as an alternative to more expensive Unix-based operating systems. The new version was announced at Microsoft's Scalability Day in May.
The enterprise version is expected to ship this quarter, and includes a new configuration tool to ease the installation process.
The new Proxy Server technology includes Web caching and firewall capabilities, extending the BackOffice's component and standalone product to compete better in a firewall market filled with Windows NT-based competitors.
Firewalls are designed to block intruders from getting onto a company's internal networks over the Internet. If Proxy Server 2.0 adds more security features, it could hurt sales of firewall software for Windows NT in particular, and NT has been the market's hottest segment, analysts warn.
To make sure that developing Windows applications is as easy as possible for corporate developers, Microsoft is improving its Microsoft Repository. The next version of the repository will gain additional features designed to make it easier for groups of developers to track the various components of software projects as they are built.
The repository "is central to moving NT further up into the enterprise," said Jon Roskill, Visual Basic product manager at Microsoft.
Microsoft today also announced that it has entered into a collaborative development deal with Platinum Technology. Platinum will port the repository software--which currently only runs on Windows--to additional operating systems, such as IBM's MVS and OS/400.
The company also announced the Open Information Model, which defines how development tools from multiple vendors can share information, said Roskill.
Version 2.0 of the repository, along with the Open Information Model, will be detailed tomorrow as part of a design preview being held at the company's Redmond, Washington, headquarters for more than 70 vendors planning to include the repository with their tools, or provide an interface to the repository.
Licensees include a healthy number of Microsoft's direct competitors in the tools market, including Sybase, Forte, and Intersolv.
Microsoft also inked repository licensing agreements with an additional 26 software vendors who will include the repository with their development tools, said Roskill.