Microsoft Windows 2008 has finally been released to manufacturing, after five years in the planning. Meanwhile, some sources are saying that Service Pack 1 for Vista is also set to be launched today.

One key feature of the server operating system is Server Core, a stripped-down, lightweight installation option that contains only a subset of executable files and can perform a limited number of functions. Not only can Server Core work on older hardware when the full-boat operating system will not, but running Windows Server 2008 in this way means fewer security vulnerabilities, Computerworld's reviewer says.

Other new functions include expanded support for Internet Information Server, where administrators can control exactly which pieces of IIS are installed and running at any given time, and more options for running and controlling applications remotely.

The path to Windows Server 2008 has not always been a straight one, however. The operating system has been delayed at least once, and Microsoft has changed course about which virtualisation features to include natively in the operating system.

Microsoft will show Windows Server 2008 to IT pros, and any other interested parties, during a series of launch events starting later this month. Also on display at those events will be Visual Studio 2008, which recently was made available to volume customers, and SQL Server 2008, which Microsoft said has been delayed until the third quarter.