MSDN and TechNet subscribers – get your shorts on and your skateboards out!! Windows Server 2008 Technical Beta participants – slip into those bikinis and hit the pool!! That’s right – the June 2007 Community Technology Preview of Windows Server 2008 is here!

Okay, so maybe the sunshine has had an effect on me, but this is exciting stuff. It’s only two months since we released Beta 3 and already we have another CTP out the door. Over 200,000 people have downloaded Beta 3 (with many, many more getting it at worldwide events or free with technical publications) and the June 2007 CTP is another step toward Release Candidate and ultimately RTM, which remains on track to hit before the end of 2007.

So what’s new in this CTP? Well, consider that Beta 3 was technically our “feature complete” milestone, so you shouldn’t expect to see much in the way of major changes from here on in. However, one major update that is present in this release is the ability to run the Web Server role (a.k.a. IIS 7.0) on a Server Core installation. This was a huge request from customers and we didn’t think we’d make it, but we managed to squeeze it in, so you should check out how that works. The main focus of this release was to fix some bugs and improve overall quality and performance over Beta 3, but obviously, you also will see some minor UI changes and tweaks.

Of course, we have announced the official name of the product now, so with each subsequent build after Beta 3 we will see less and less of the “C*de N*me L*ngh*rn” logos and references floating around (it’s a bit like Marty McFly’s family disappearing from the photo in Back to the Future). One prominent place you’ll see this is where we show the build string in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, which now proudly says “Windows Server (TM) 2008”.

In fact, this brings up one of the more common questions we get, which is why every build is numbered 6001 and how you can tell the builds apart. Well, the build numbers do change, but after Windows Vista released (build 6000 in the shared code tree we had between client and server), we incremented the major build number by 1 to differentiate it and then started incrementing the minor build number, so the June 2007 CTP ends up being build 6001.16606.070619.0730. This doesn’t appear on the desktop, but you can always find it in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion in the BuildLabEx value.

There are a couple of other new-ish things worth a mention at this point that haven’t had much coverage up until now. First up is the new Secure Sockets Tunnelling Protocol (SSTP), which is an SSL-over-HTTP solution that solves the problem of trying to create a VPN connection where NAT, firewalls or proxies might get in the way. I bring it up now because the Cable Guy has a great article on SSTP in the June 2007 issue of TechNet magazine that explains how it works. Second up is the Windows Server 2008 learning portal. This is a great resource for all your Windows Server 2008 learning needs, with free e-learning, free ebook chapters, book discounts, classroom training offers, and news on upcoming certification exams. We know that you have questions on Windows Server 2008 (lots of questions!) because we see them on our discussion forums and during our webcasts (keep ’em coming!) so we want to make sure you can get the answers you are looking for. Let us know if there’s anything else we do to help!

That’s it from me – back out in the sun I go 🙂