Microsoft is set to release the latest versions of its performance and monitoring tool, MOM. The company said that the releases formed the cornerstone in its plan to create a management platform for Windows.

MOM 2005 is a major part of Microsoft's Dynamic System Initiative, a comprehensive management platform being developed for Windows that includes upgrades to Visual Studio as well as infrastructure software. The products, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 and MOM Workgroup Edition have been released to manufacturing and should be generally available 1 October.

"MOM is a major step for us," says David Hamilton, director of the Windows and enterprise management division at Microsoft.

Along with System Management Server (SMS) 2003, MOM 2005 will become the foundation for a new product called System Center, which is due to be released next year. It will feature a common interface to link MOM and SMS and a set of reporting services that will draw information from the two management tools.

Last month, Microsoft's chief software architect Bill Gates called out MOM, SMS and System Center, along with Windows XP SP2, the next version of Windows Server 2003 (called R2), and Internet Security and Acceleration Server, and said those products would help transform security "from a concern for (Microsoft) into something that's a significant, unique asset as well as a business opportunity."

Microsoft has more than 50 Management Packs available for use with MOM, including 20 new packs with the 2005 version. Management packs are linked with certain applications, such as Exchange or SQL Server, and communicate knowledge about an application's functions and errors to MOM.

The new packs track application state, model health and support the ability to correct errors or restart services or entire servers. A new reporting and analysis engine includes hundreds of pre-built reports.

Microsoft added a wizard setup tool, a configuration checker, discovery and automatic installation of Management Packs to help ease installation. Also new are an Outlook-style interface and a role-based console to tailor MOM for administrators, operations staff and those collecting reports.

MOM 2005 ships with the MOM Connector Framework, which includes connectors to other management platforms, including Hewlett-Packard's OpenView, IBM's Tivoli, and Computer Associates International's CA Unicenter.

MOM 2005 Workgroup Edition offers functionality similar to that of MOM 2005, but is limited to use on 10 devices.