Microsoft improves branch office support in Windows Server R2

Microsoft has unveiled the first public beta version of R2, an interim release of its Windows Server software.

Microsoft has unveiled the first public beta version of R2, an interim release of its Windows Server software.

R2 is Microsoft's first attempt to deliver an interim release of the Windows Server operating system. It will replace Windows Server 2003 when it ships later this year, said Bob Muglia, senior vice-president of Microsoft's Windows Server division.

The release is intended to offer significant new features and stem criticism from user organisations who have said delays in rolling out Longhorn, the next full release of Windows, have reduced the expected value of their Software Assurance licences.

The interim release of Windows is based on the same core operating system code as Windows 2003 SP1, which was launched at the end of March

Features in R2 include support for users with a branch office network. "We have never really focused on branch before," said Muglia, who outlined improved file sharing and file replication capabilities in R2.

The release offers remote differential compression to make it easier to move large files to and from branch offices.

R2 is designed to be managed remotely, which Microsoft said would reduce the need for IT experts at branch offices. It would also support remote back-up from head offices and failover with rollback.

Muglia highlighted R2's Active Directory Federation Services. This is an extension to Microsoft's authentication software designed to support the way users work with external partners.

Muglia said R2 could also help tackle the management issues of dealing with staff who have left a company but are still using valid log-in details to connect to a business partner's IT systems.

Other features in R2 include simplified management of storage area networks, making San management a standard operating system feature.

Muglia said R2's Simple San administration feature would allow users who had never configured a San before to do so in less than an hour.

l Microsoft, has launched Windows Mobile 5.0, the latest incarnation of its Windows Mobile software platform. The focus of the release is tighter support for Microsoft Office software and persistent memory storage for more efficient data management, support for hard drives and qwerty keyboards.

Who will get it?

Organisations on Software Assurance will receive R2, but Microsoft is not planning to offer upgrades to R2 from Windows NT4 or 2000. Users on earlier versions of the server operating system will require a new licence to run R2, as will users of Windows 2003 without a subscription licence. Microsoft does not plan to extend R2 support beyond 2013, the end of support date for Windows 2003.


Key features

  • Sharepoint services
  • Next version of .net Framework
  • File replication over Wans
  • Active Directory federation services
  • Simple storage area networks
  • Unix interoperability
  • iSCSI support.


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