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Windows Server 2003 R2 Enters Beta

Windows Server 2003 "R2" formally entered the private beta testing stage this week, Microsoft senior vice president for the Windows Server Division Bob Muglia said on Friday.

R2 or Release 2 is the codename for the second version of Windows Server 2003. Expected to ship in the second half of 2005, Microsoft describes the product as consisting of two discs. One will contain Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 with a few enhancements and the other disc will contain optional components that users can install as needed. Most of the optional components will be pulled from the dozen or so free feature packs that Microsoft released with or after Windows Server 2003.

From a licensing standpoint, R2 has a low profile. Customers with Enterprise Agreements will be able to upgrade at no charge. All new copies of Windows Server 2003 sold after R2 ships will be the R2 version. CALs purchased for Windows Server 2003 will be transferable to R2.

In a slide deck Muglia used to brief reporters on Friday, R2's new base features were identified as having three themes. They are branch server deployment and management, Active Directory federation services and efficient storage management.

Microsoft executives believe branch offices with little or not on-site IT support are one area that customers need help with. In order to improve branch office manageability, R2 will add features for centralized backup and management of file and print services, better availability, more efficient publishing and collaboration and remote server hardware management.

Active Directory federation services improvements will focus on Web single sign-on, B2B and B2C commerce and collaboration and better interoperability with existing security systems.

Storage improvements were among the central features of Windows Server 2003, but Microsoft expects to go further with R2 with simpler SAN management for the IT generalist and Storage Resource Management.

Microsoft has been hinting that it will not include all of the feature packs that have been created for Windows Server 2003 on the second disc of R2. On Friday, Microsoft confirmed several of the most likely candidates for inclusion. They are Windows SharePoint Services, Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM), Unix interoperability (a subset of Services for Unix 3.5), iSCSI and the File Server Migration Toolkit.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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