In the largest enterprise launch in the company’s history, Microsoft yesterday unveiled its next generation of infrastructure and application platform products, focusing on security, Web applications, virtualisation and better business intelligence. 

Thousands of customers and partners attended the launch at the Sandton Convention Centre – one of 225 such events around the world – to see the wraps being taken off Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
These new enterprise products help customers more efficiently and securely manage their entire infrastructure and move to a virtualized environment while also delivering business intelligence and next-generation Web experiences to boost business results.
The theme of the event, “Heroes Happen Here,” highlights the outstanding work that IT professionals, developers and partners do every day to create solutions and cutting-edge applications that keep global commerce and industry running.
Manoj Bhoola, the head of the Server & Tools division at Microsoft SA, says the launch is a major milestone to help customers on the road to Dynamic IT, Microsoft’s initiative to help customers optimize their people, processes and technology, and in turn position IT as a strategic asset for their business.
“IT professionals and developers tell us they spend too much time and money managing existing systems and not enough investing in new capabilities that create strategic advantage,” says Bhoola. “That feedback is at the core of the innovations in this new wave of products.
"Already, the overwhelming response from thousands of IT professionals and developers around the world is that this is the most secure enterprise platform we have ever delivered, and that it will simplify management and enable them to focus more on driving their businesses forward.”
Research shows that early adopters of the technology are already seeing big benefits. Researchers at consulting agency Capgemini looked at companies and institutions in the financial services, education, retail and high-technology industries using Windows Server 2008 in a mix of geographic regions.
They found that the new operating system quickly adds value to IT operations through enhancements to management, security and reliability. Deployment duration was reduced by up to 60% and IT reduced costs by hundreds of thousands of rands per year. Cost reductions resulted from a wide range of areas, including the recovery of five IT staff hours per server and 91% less downtime.
Already IT professionals and developers around the world are using Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and test versions of SQL Server 2008 to implement more secure platforms and Web applications while reducing costs and speeding development.
With the introduction of Windows Server 2008, Bhoola says partners will deliver this next-generation platform to its customers worldwide, enabling them to achieve greater reliability, performance and control over their IT infrastructure. In addition, Microsoft’s advanced Windows Deployment Services suite will allow partners to increase the speed of deployments and simplify management.
“This next-generation technology means a great deal to our enterprise customers,” says Bhoola. “Through our long-standing relationship with our partners, we are poised to continue to deliver innovative solutions to customers across the world.”
Microsoft has worked with more than 1 000 industry partners to help plan, build, test and deploy leading-edge solutions by providing early access to code, training and testing, and certification support. Hundreds of independent software vendors have demonstrated their support with the development of a wide variety of business applications for industries that include retail, accounting, commerce, engineering, financial services, healthcare, supply chain and more.
Windows Server 2008, including a beta version of the Hyper-V virtualization technology, and Visual Studio 2008 are available today. The feature-complete, February community technology preview of SQL Server 2008 is also available, with general availability expected in the third quarter of 2008.
Later this year Microsoft will release the Windows Essential Server Solutions family of products for small and midsize companies built on Windows Server 2008 and the newest Microsoft server technologies and services: Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008.
Windows HPC Server 2008, the successor to Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, is on track for availability in the second half of 2008 and is designed to increase productivity, scalability and manageability for high-performance computing scenarios.
In addition, Windows Storage Server 2008, the next-generation storage solution based on Windows Server 2008, will be available by the end of the year.