Windows Server becomes disposable

A disposable OS (my definition) is one that is essentially supported for only one major release of a product that comes out in a similar timeframe to it. Imagine releasing a major server product that will not run on current and currently in development major operating systems that the same company markets. The name of this product is Microsoft ISA Server 2006. It will not install on Windows Server 2003 64-bit editions that were readily available at the time of its release, and nor will it install on any Windows Server 2008 edition (which was under development at the time). What solutions are therefore available if you’ve just bought a Windows 2008 server, only to find that ISA will not install on it?

It gets very messy and expensive. Perhaps you have to buy another physical server, another operating system license for Windows Server 2003, and run ISA on its own box, instead of the multi-role 2008 server that your small organisation was going to use. On an objective level, this is the kind of lock-in that people really hate Microsoft for. Another example was the speed with which XP was taken off the shelves once Vista was in production, even with all the problems Vista brought with it. Then there’s server remote management tools which simply have not been released at all for XP. You have to have Vista to run them.

Microsoft is now going to supersede the two year old ISA Server 2006 with Forefront Threat Management Gateway, currently in beta development. Until it’s released there is no firewall server solution in existence for Windows 2008 32-bit server owners. 64 bit owners with Hyper-V can try virtualising a 2003 32-bit server environment at additional expense for the license and additional management complexity and cost.

The disposable OS conundrum continues with Exchange 2007 and other key MS technologies.