Microsoft slides out second HPC Windows 2008 beta
Tweak tweak, hush hush
Microsoft quietly snuck out a second beta of its high performance computing (HPC) Windows 2008 server product on Saturday.
Beta 2 of its high-end cluster operating system follows the release of the software giant’s first beta for Windows HPC Server 2008 last November.
Microsoft said it has tested over 1000 nodes on a cluster, fixed more than 1000 bugs, made numerous design tweaks and coded in a bucketload of new features.
It comes as little surprise to see Microsoft charge into the increasingly lucrative HPC game, which up to now has been a sector dominated by big Linux-based beasts.
Plenty of corporations have chucked heaps of cash at high-end servers over the past few years, and – where spending goes – Redmond, like a hungry pig sniffing for truffles, follows.
The vendor had originally pencilled in the February/March timeframe for developers and other brave individuals to get their mitts on the product’s second beta. But, as tends to be typical with Microsoft roadmaps, it’s arrived a few months behind schedule.
Perhaps that explains why the test version was quietly released over the weekend.
So, what new stuff can you test drive with this beta?
“For Beta 2 we improved scalability, reduced latency and improved session initialization time. Beta 2 supports multiple WCF Brokers [financial management tool], allowing HPC Server 2008 to run really big SOA workloads,” said Microsoft HPC boss Ryan Waite in a post on the Windows Server team blog  on Saturday.
Beyond that, the interface boasts plenty of scalability improvements, according to Waites. Microsoft last year began beating the ease-of-use drum with this product with the company attempting to claw its way into vast, specialist and expensive
engine server rooms.
Also of note, Microsoft has completely overhauled its To Do List for people to set up a cluster – that move follows a bundle of criticism from developers scrutinising the first beta of HPC Server 2008.
No word yet however on if this will be the final beta – we presume it probably is, given that Microsoft earmarked this summer as the timeframe when the product should hit manufacturing. ®