Microsoft to deliver betas of Vail and Aurora servers next week?

It sounds like Microsoft is readying new beta builds of two low-end Windows Server releases — known as “Vail” and “Aurora” — to be released next week, timed with the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, according to my sources.

Vail is the next release of Windows Home Server. Aurora is a small business server based largely on the same code base as Vail. (There’s also a common framework, some kind of “client computer connector,” that extends across the two products, that is codenamed “Colorado.”)

A Community Technology Preview test build of Vail leaked to the Web earlier this year. At that time, the “Aurora” codename became known, though the actual Aurora code didn’t leak (as far as I know). In April, Microsoft released a first public beta of Vail, but didn’t deliver a public test build of Aurora.

So what’s the difference between Vail and Aurora? And how does Aurora fit in with Windows Small Business Server, the next version of which (expected to be based on the Windows Server 2008 R2 code) has gotten little to no public mention in recent months?

At Microsoft’s TechEd Conference in early June, I got a couple of snippets about Vail and Aurora from Microsoft Server and Tools President Bob Muglia, with whom I had a one-on-one interview.

Muglia described Aurora to me as a “small business appliance.” He said Windows Home Server Vail will be its “kissing cousin.” While Vail is aimed primarily at home users, Aurora will be aimed at the traditional SBS market, and will include Active Directory as part of it.

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