For homo sapiens, getting older is painful. Take me for example. Nine hours on a plane never bothered me when I was in my 20s with a rubber backbone. But a couple of weeks out from birthday # 43 and one cross-country airplane ride translates into a sudden spinal meltdown that has me lying in bed, rigid as a vampire, popping painkillers like Christmas chocolates.
Fortunately, it's not the same thing for software. In the life of Windows Server, today marks general availability of public beta for the new Windows Server 2008 R2-and, for me personally, I've never had my geeky mitts on a better version. The new release incorporates a host of new features and capabilities that I hope you'll check out; the code is as stable a beta as I've ever seen and combined with the beta of Windows 7 you'll be able to evaluate not just a bevy of new server-side capabilities, but a new level of synergy between server and client operating systems, too.
A quick recap of my favorite highlights:
- While the Windows 7 client is available in both x86 and x64 versions, Windows Server 2008 R2 is Microsoft's first 64-bit only OS. It also supports up to 256 logical processors, which opens up a whole new world of enterprise-class back-end processing power.
- Your existing servers will run faster, too, because Windows Server 2008 R2 takes advantage of the latest CPU architecture enhancements. You'll also get significant power management improvements via features like Core Parking.
- Hyper-V in R2 now has Live Migration, allowing IT admins to move VMs across physical hosts with no interruption of service or network connectivity and significant network performance improvements. VMs in Hyper-V for R2 also get greater access to physical resources, namely support for 32 logical processors. It all adds up to the most flexible virtual data center in Microsoft's history.
- Check out PowerShell 2.0. Next to Live Migration, "more PowerShell" is the most consistent customer request we've had from Windows Server 2008. So, you'll find over 240 new cmdlets out of the box along with new dev tools for building your own cmdlets that are not only more robust, but easier, too. The new PowerShell is so powerful, we're starting to build GUI-based management consoles that are based entirely on PowerShell in the background-check out the new Active Directory Administrative Center for starters.
- RDS is another big-time update. What used to be called Terminal Services has now evolved into Remote Desktop Services with the R2 release. Key in RDS is the new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which allows you to centralize Windows desktops in the data center as virtual machines in addition to the traditional session-based remote desktop model we all know and love from Terminal Services. But VDI is only one new feature in RDS. Others include better end-user fidelity with features like true multiple monitor support and high-end audio and video so you've got more breadth in the kinds of applications you can centralize. And the new RemoteApp and Desktop connections feature integrates tightly enough with Windows 7 that users of the new desktop OS won't need to practically differentiate between what's local and what isn't. It all runs off the Start menu.
- And speaking of Windows 7…Windows Server 2008 R2 is a powerful upgrade to any Windows Server data center all by itself. But in combination with Windows 7 on the client side you'll enter a whole new world of manageability and productivity:
- DirectAccess makes remote access ubiquitous (I'm nuts about this one),
- BranchCache can improve content retrieval at branch offices while simultaneously decreasing WAN bandwidth costs,
- New Group Policy objects allow deeper control of client desktop management, including access, system monitoring and even physical resources like power management,
- You'll be able to manage and keep data safe even on removable drives by using BitLocker to Go.
And those are just my favorite four. This list hardly encompasses all that Windows Server 2008 R2 has to offer. Check out the full kit for yourself at the Windows Server 2008 R2 Web site. And as always, we're looking for feedback so keep those comments coming.
— Oliver Rist
Technical Product Manager for Windows Server Marketing