Microsoft Corp has re-stated plans to ship an updated version of Windows Server 2003 next year, but removed a major security component from the planned operating system.
The Network Access Protection (NAP) program, backed by more than 25 partners when announced earlier this year, is now planned in the Longhorn Server operating system – expected during the 2007 timeframe with a beta in the second half of 2005.
Explaining its decision, Microsoft said it is working with Cisco Systems Inc to integrate NAP with Cisco’s network security and health assurance technology.
Microsoft’s decision, though, makes NAP the latest in a series of features to be re-assigned from planned operating systems. Earlier this year Microsoft removed three core features from the Longhorn client in order to hit its already delayed window of 2006.
Pulling NAP out of Windows Server 2003 Release 2 suggests Microsoft is again reprioritizing efforts in order to hit the server roadmap announced in May. Microsoft announced NAP as part of Windows Server 2003 Release 2 at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Canada, in May.
The Windows Server 2003 Release 2 feature set will now see simplified branch server management, streamlined access management across security boundaries and what Microsoft called efficient storage management.
Also planned for 2005 is Windows Server 2003’s first Service Pack (SP) 1, with improved performance, management, security and efficiency. Windows Server 2003 x64, for 64-bit hardware architectures is planned for the first half of 2005, and Windows Server 2003 High Performance Computing (HPC) Edition will ship during the second half of the year.