Microsoft has updated its Windows Server 2003 operating system, and its internet and Security Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004, a product for branch office firewall and virtual private networks.
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Microsoft has made Windows Server 2003 R2 available with improvements for branch offices, and has released the second service pack for ISA.
New features in R2 include centralised file replication and printer management technologies that make it easier to duplicate and print files between different branch office locations.
R2 also includes a bundle of technologies that enable Windows Server to interoperate more effectively with Unix-based systems.
In addition, Active Directory Federation Services is added. These are a set of web services that makes it easier for companies and trusted partners to securely share applications.
Windows Server 2003 R2 is free of charge to current Windows Server customers who have an enterprise licence agreement or who are signed up to the Microsoft Software Assurance programme.
ISA Server 2004 SP 2 includes the ability to cache and serve content downloaded with Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), which is a file transfer service used by Microsoft Windows Update to download updates and service packs.
BITS caching provides a more efficient roll out of updates and fixes by transferring data in small portions and reassembling the data at the destination, said Microsoft.