It may have been awhile since you have seen the code name “Longhorn” because Vista previously had the same code name more than a year ago. However, the server version of Longhorn is still in the Beta stages and has not received a name change yet, and Microsoft is looking for people to test the upcoming operating system.

If this sounds like fun for you then head on over to the public download page where you can find more information as well as all the download links. If you just want to jump right in you can start downloading the ISO directly with these links (thanks to the Windows-Now Blog):

Longhorn Beta 3 is set to expire on April 7, 2008 which gives you plenty of time to tinker around with the operating system. You should also make sure to look at the system requirements before giving it a shot because you’ll need at least a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, and 8GB of hard drive space just for the minimum requirements.

To get your product key you’ll need to complete a registration form that asks for common things like your name, address, etc… as well as a few quick questions. Make sure you enter in a valid email address because they made me confirm it even though it was already attached to a confirmed Passport account. After your account is verified you’ll be taken to a page like this to select which version to download:

Longhorn Beta 3

Just follow the remaining steps to complete the “checkout” process and you’ll be on your way to using Longhorn Beta 3. It took about 5 minutes for me to complete the entire process which is why I wanted to provide the direct download links above. That way you can start your download, and then go get your product key.

Since there are multiple versions available it might be a little confusing which one you should download. Here is a quick overview about each version:

  • Windows Web Server “Longhorn”
    This edition is designed specifically for use as a Web and applications server. Other server roles and the Server Core installation option are not available in this edition.
  • Windows Server “Longhorn” Standard Edition
    This edition of Windows Server “Longhorn” provides key server functionality across most server roles and features. It includes both full and Server Core installation options.
  • Windows Server “Longhorn” Enterprise Edition
    This edition builds on Windows Server “Longhorn” Standard Edition to provide greater scalability and availability, and adds enterprise technologies such as failover clustering and Active Directory Federation Services.
  • Windows Server “Longhorn” Datacenter Edition
    This edition offers the same functionality as Windows Server “Longhorn” Enterprise Edition with support for additional memory and processors, and unlimited virtual image use rights.

I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I am in the process of downloading the 1.8GB ISO image for the Enterprise Edition. If I get it up and running later today I will definitely post a screenshot gallery…so stay tuned.