I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about the relationship of Windows servers and the datacenter. In my role as a product manager, I often hear customer talk about their challenges and pains balancing applications, OS’es and hardware refresh cycles. And once a while, I catch myself recalling the simpler times of the past; when Windows NT, 3.51, 4.0 and even Windows 2000 were more manageable (Ok, relatively speaking). Today, IT organizations have to manage exponentially more apps, more users, and more flavors of servers than you can keep count of. 32-bit apps has been around for a l-o-n-g time. When Windows Server 2003 introduced 64-bit, only a limited number of apps were able to realize the benefits of better scalability, faster performance. Even today (5+ years later), customers still tell me they can’t take their apps on a 64-bit OS because of driver compatibility. This has IT organizations painting themselves into the corner of supporting a complex matrix of 32-bit and 64-bit apps and OS’es. When you toss in legacy 16-bit application into the mix, you end up with a fairly complex mix of… spaghetti.

The next wave of Windows is coming. I’m not talking about Windows 2008, which was just released in Feb 2008. There are already talks about Windows “7” or Windows 2008 R2 – the codename for the next release of Windows (server and client). And in case you haven’t heard… Windows “7” server will be 64-bit only. What will you do with your 16-bit and 32-bit apps? How will IT be able to catch up, or will this downward spiral continues? Or do you have everything under control?