Microsoft is aiming to have its first cluster version of Windows for Supercomputers ready in time for a supercomputing conference this fall.

Software Architect Marvin Theimer said on Thursday that the company hopes to have a beta, or test version, by this summer, with the final version of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition ready by the SC2005 supercomputing conference in November.



The company has not announced final pricing for the operating system, but Theimer said the additional computers, or nodes, of a cluster will be priced at a discount.



“When you buy a cluster, the price per node in the cluster is going to be reduced” compared to regular Windows, Theimer said in a presentation at the Intel Developer Forum here. “We want to be competitive with something like Red Hat.”



However, Theimer said the cluster version will include some restrictions on how the version can be used to prevent companies from performing standard Web hosting or other functions.



CNET News.com first reported Microsoft’s plans to offer a tailored version of Windows last May. Microsoft confirmed its supercomputer plans last June.



The first version will reproduce many basic features of Linux clusters, Theimer said.



For example, it will include support for the Message Passing Interface, or MPI, the communication foundation of cluster software. And it will include programming tools for writing software that runs on clusters.



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