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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.