Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Takes a Back Seat to Windows 7 RC1

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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With all the hype surrounding the release candidate of Windows 7 RC1, many are ignoring that Microsoft is ready to launch its most important Network Operating System to date, Windows Server 2008 R2.

According to Microsoft, The release candidate of Windows Server 2008 R2 will become publicly available around May 6 and new features will abound, perhaps making WS2008R2 the network operating system to have. Yet that news has been buried under a pile of Windows 7 press releases and one has to wonder where Microsoft is focusing its energy.

Simply put, WS2008R2 is a major revamp of the Windows Server 2008 operating system. Microsoft has put significant resources into improving the product, so much that calling it a "Release 2" version is arguably a mistake – Microsoft should call the product Windows Server 7, to capitalize on the perception of change going through the company.

Whether you call it WS2008R2 or WS7 is not the real point here – which comes down to what Microsoft has done with its flagship network operating system product. Changes are many and include a great number of enhancements that will make Windows networks more secure and easier to manage.

What’s more, there are some significant features that will make those in the data center very happy - but those features are under embargo until May 11. Even so it’s safe to say that those features will make those managing virtualization and storage even happier.

The real meat and potatoes behind WS2008R2 come from the following enhancements:

-          Improved Hyper-V support:  Includes virtual file system clustering, Virtual Machine Queuing, Hot Add/Remove of VMs, and Processor affinity mode.

-          Improved Control Panels: Simplified menus and more descriptive dialogs speed common tasks.

-          Server Manager: A greatly improved management console for controlling all aspects of the server.

-          Enhanced Roles: Server roles are grouped into logical, hierarchical order, making it simpler to define the roles a server needs to take on and identify prerequisites.

-          Improved Event Viewer: Makes it easier to view logs, track events, troubleshoot and drill down into individual details.

-          Firewall Rules: Several new base rules have been added and firewall policies are generally easier to setup and understand.

-          Enhanced File Manager: Shares the look and feel of Windows 7’s file manager utility.

-          Hardware & Device Management: Improved, more informative screens – borrowed from Windows 7.

-          Windows Update: Similar to Windows 7, a more automated - more informative approach to installing and tracking updates.

-          Windows Power Shell: Much more functionally offered over the CMD prompt of yesteryear.

While many of those improvements are very obvious to seasoned Windows Server administrators, there are some other changes that are worth noting – for example, WS2008R2 will only come as a 64-bit operating system. Microsoft has also improved the native backup capabilities, minimizing the need for third-party backup applications. Microsoft also bundles in a new version of Internet Information Server (IIS), 7.5, which has enhanced support for deploying Web applications, and offers a simplified management plug-in. A new FTP server is included with WS2008R2, which sports enhanced security, as well as better performance.


To improve remote user experience, the product incorporates a new solution called DirectAccess, which is also present in windows 7. This feature can automatically create a connection with a company's corporate network every time a user connects to the Internet, eliminating the need for separate VPN client.

The new additions and feature enhancements go beyond the above mentioned, truly highlighting that Microsoft means business when it comes to its latest in Network Operating Systems.




Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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