Microsoft has released a "customer preview program beta" of Windows Server 2003 R2, the forthcoming update to Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1.
R2 is due to be released by the end of 2005. Microsoft said it will offer improved branch office server systems and better identity and access management. Storage management and application development support has also been improved.
Microsoft has also released Beta 1 of WinFS, the Windows relational file system. Beta 1, which provides support to Windows XP, is available to all Microsoft Developer Network subscribers.
The company said WinFS offers features such as the unified Item Data Model, which releases individual data items from their respective applications (such as contacts, calendar events and RSS feeds) so they can be organised, managed, shared and synchronised directly alongside files via publicly available schemas.
New organisational constructs in WinFS will help users extend their data with additional properties and allow applications to automatically organise their data, said Microsoft.
In addition, WinFS users will be able to build powerful queries that exploit relationships, such as "show me all mail from people I am meeting with this week", Microsoft said.