Microsoft has pulled SharePoint Services 3.0 out of Windows Server 2008 and will offer it as a separate download instead, as with earlier versions.

The software will continue to be a free download, but users will have to install it as an add-on when they deploy Windows Server 2008, expected to ship early next year.

Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) provides team work spaces, document management and application development based on Microsoft's Web Parts technology. The features are a subset of those in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, which runs on top of WSS, which also has a site directory, expanded search, integration with Active Directory and a personal file folder called My Site.

"This is a minor inconvenience for customers but not a scandal of any type," says Peter O'Kelly, an analyst with the Burton Group. "It was done primarily, or perhaps exclusively, because Microsoft didn't want to have the development cycles [of Windows and WSS] so tightly coupled. This provides more flexibility."

WSS was included in the first release candidate of Windows Server 2008, dubbed RC0, and released in September. The R1 release of the server won't ship with WSS.

Julius Sinkevicius, senior product manager in Microsoft's Windows server division, wrote on the Windows Server blog, "basically, we made this decision to allow customers to most conveniently obtain the technology while allowing Microsoft to have flexibility in the Windows SharePoint Services development process."

Microsoft embedded WSS in Windows Server starting with the 2003 R2 version. "The SharePoint team is working hard on great new features and releases that customers will continue to see delivered via download," Sinkevicius added.