By Ben Simmons

Start telling most people about the importance of servers and their eyes glaze over. They would much rather talk about some cool new smartphone app or the latest social networking site. Yet without servers, the things we value most about technology–from mobile devices to online shopping–would be impossible.

“It’s servers that enable us to do everything from email to eBay,” says Betsy Speare, a principle program manager lead in the Windows Server Manageability team. “Servers are making the world a smaller place by providing the backbone for communication and the integration of information.”

Erin Chapple, a partner group program manager in the Server and Cloud Division, agrees. “Technology is a huge lever to improve people’s quality of life,” she says. “It may be less sexy in the server world, because you’re not working on something that is health-related or so obviously a part of everyone’s day-to-day life. But knowing that we can work on one piece of technology and impact a huge number of people–that’s what keeps me coming back to work and thinking about the next great thing we can build.”

What Chapple, Speare, Jeffrey Snover, a Distinguished Engineer who is also the lead architect for Windows Server, and the rest of their team are working on right now is the next version of Windows Server, code-named “Windows Server 8,” which will provide better management capabilities, increased security and significant cost savings. Windows Server 8 will also help many Microsoft customers move more of their business to the cloud.

“Windows Server 8 really sets us up to enable the little guy to get ahead,” says Speare, whose responsibilities include overseeing Group Policy, the most widely used management tool in the world. “That’s what the cloud does; it puts this amazing power at everyone’s fingertips. With this release, we’re building the platform for that. When people who aren’t deeply technical have the capability to create solutions because the power is right there, it will be amazing to see what happens.”

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