Microsoft released two new technology preview of its Windows Server operating system (OS), code-named Longhorn.

The release includes the first developer release of Internet Information Services (IIS) 7, the next version of Microsoft's Web application platform, said Bob Muglia, senior vice president, Windows Server division for Microsoft, in a keynote at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) yesterday.

Longhorn is expected to be available in 2007, and has been christened Windows Vista by the company.

The IIS 7 offering in the beta includes a new feature that gives IT administrators and developers more control of applications that are deployed on the server.

In an interview following the keynote, Jeff Price, senior director for Windows Server at Microsoft, explained that Microsoft is eliminating a feature called metabase of IIS 7, which was "a big customer pain" because it was Microsoft's "proprietary way of controlling the settings" of IIS.

Now, IT administrators and developers have more access to the way applications are deployed on IIS through a file called Web.config that they can control, he said: "They can control the Web server as well as from one location," Price said.

On Thursday, Microsoft also gave developers the first beta of Windows Compute Cluster Solution, a version of the OS aimed at scientific and financial customers that need compute-intensive systems comprised of large server clusters.

These customers have traditionally used Unix-based servers, but Microsoft is aimed at cracking this market with a Compute Cluster version of Windows due next year, Muglia said.

"The problem is a compute cluster solution has not been delivered by Microsoft [in the past]," he said. "Our goal is to build a complete platform here. Compute Cluster allows people to build applications that scale across a large number of machines."