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Microsoft Previews Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft on Tuesday showed off a pre-beta version of Windows Server 2008 R2 at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Microsoft on Tuesday showed off a pre-beta version of Windows Server 2008 R2 at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. The company is also promoting the upcoming release (also known as "Windows 7 Server") on its various blogs and Web sites.

While Microsoft isn't talking specific dates yet (the live version is expected to debut in late 2009/early 2010), it is talking features -- including confirming that Windows Server 2008 R2 will be 64-bit only.

"32-bit is done," wrote Technical Product Manager Oliver Rist on a Windows Server blog post. "Frankly it was high time. Customers have been unable to purchase a 32-bit server CPU for over two years now, and the advancements in CPU architectures really dictated that we squeeze as much performance out of customers' hardware purchases as possible. The move to 64-bit is a first step."

Redmond is also playing up the new virtualization tools it will include in R2, particularly Live Migration, which it calls a "marquee" feature. "Think physical host migrations of running VMs happening in milliseconds -- no service or user connection interruptions," Rist wrote. "With Live Migration, data centers can truly go virtual and largely divorce management considerations between software and hardware, and all managed from inside a single OS frame."

Other virtualization-related features Redmond expects to include is a new version of Hyper-V -- "think mucho better management [and] beefier resources for VMs," Rist wrote -- plus the addition of a "true" Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to Terminal Services. According to Rist, this will allow IT pros to deploy virtual desktops and applications "with such tight integration, most users will be unable to tell the difference between centrally hosted apps and those installed locally," Rist commented.

Another focus of Windows Server 2008 R2 will be what Microsoft is calling "streamlined management" -- with new "role-specific" server management UIs, a new graphic interface for PowerShell, plus an Active Directory Domain Services console and improved Group Policy tools.

IIS 7.0 is also getting tweaked for the upcoming release, offering "new PowerShell management support" and "new failover clustering updates," according to Rist.

Rist called another new feature, Direct Access (DA), the "sleeper feature" of the release. Working with the upcoming Windows 7 client OS (also previewed at PDC this week), DA will make remote computing "invisible" from the client perspective.

"Using technologies like SSTP and IPv6 combined with way-easy management UIs in Windows Server 2008 R2, admins can build remote computing policies that let users plug into any network, anywhere and see their local network resources -- completely secure, no clunky VPN required," Rist wrote. "As long as there's an outward network connection, DA takes care of everything in the background and automatically."

More information about Windows Server 2008 R2 can be found on Microsoft's Web site here.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy. She also serves as executive editor of the group's media Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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