The acronym stands for Release to Manufacturing, and it means this latest release of Windows Server 2008 R2 is now blessed by engineering as ready for the manufacturing process. We're talking final code. Sun shining, birds singing, children dancing in the streets.
With evaluation software available for download in the first half of August and the full product available to customers with Software Assurance in the second half of August, RTM is more than just an engineering milestone. Occurring in lock-step with the release of the Windows 7 RTM, these two platforms are now ready for our partners to start testing and installing on their hardware. And that lock-step isn't a coincidence, it's a design goal.
Customers using Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 in their enterprises has been Microsoft's intent from the first day programmers touched fingers to keyboards. Let's look at the highlights:
It's Christmas for server and desktop administrators with Windows Server 2008 R2's updated management tools, including:
- Hyper-V and Live Migration – still the big stars. R2's Hyper-V enables a complete server virtualization solution available out-of-the-box. Live Migration allows server administrators to migrate VMs between physical machines with no perceived downtime for current server connections and work streams. That means a more dynamic datacenter and more agility in meeting new business needs For more information on Hyper-V in R2, check out today's in-depth post on the Virtualization Team blog.
- File Classification Infrastructure – FCI lets you manage your data based on its characteristics, including things like file type, user credentials and even content. Based on this kind of criteria, FCI can assign data different access restrictions, store it in different locations or simply push it into an entirely customized lifecycle scheme – all done automatically via policy. For me, this is one of the most exciting new features in R2.
- Active Directory and Pervasive PowerShell – 240 new PowerShell cmdlets and several management consoles (including a new Active Directory interface) have been built on top of PowerShell. Active Directory has also been enhanced with the Active Directory Recycle Bin as well as AD Group Policy objects that give desktop administrators deeper capabilities when it comes to managing Windows 7 clients.
- IIS 7.5 – The latest edition of Internet Information Server also sports updated management tools as well as application serving capabilities that now including support for PHP and .NET on Server Core installations.
- Server Scalability – Not only is R2 Microsoft's first 64-bit-only operating system, it also supports up to 256 logical processors in a single server as well as all the latest CPU technologies. And, R2 has support for advanced storage technologies, including SAN management and solid state hardware.
I'll leave it to the Windows 7 team to evangelize the many advantages that Windows 7 has as a standalone operating system (click here for the Windows 7 RTM announcement). But we server guys love it because combined with Windows Server 2008 R2 we can provide features I've never seen before in another client-server platform.
- DirectAccess, for example, provides secure, always-on access to corporate networks no matter from what network a client might be connecting. Better yet, it provides a two-way relationship allowing desktop admins to manage clients the same way whether they're local or remote.
- BranchCache allows users in remote offices to cache corpnet data locally, providing a better work experience for remote workers while simultaneously lowering expensive WAN bandwidth costs.
- Remote Desktop and Applications – Windows Server 2008's Terminal Services has now evolved into R2's Remote Desktop Services, and it integrates so tightly with Windows 7 that administrators will be able to roll out virtualized applications and even entire desktop environments without users being able to tell that these tools aren't running locally. It's fast and can even be managed via policy. Very cool stuff.
Power efficiency and power management were priorities for R2. The power efficiency improvements help you save power automatically – without additional steps or configuration. An improved processor power management engine, storage power management improvements, tick skipping, core parking, and timer coalescing all contribute to improved power efficiency.
While licensing topics are a bit arcane, those of you already running Windows Server 2008 should know that you don't need new Client Access Licenses (CALs) when updating to Windows Server 2008 R2, which helps make for a cost-effective upgrade.
I'm out of space and have only scratched the surface of what you'll find in R2. You can follow the buzz about R2 and Windows 7 on Twitter via the #Windows hashtag.
For those evaluating the software for near-term deployment, make sure to visit the Windows Server 2008 R2 Resource Center, our TechNet Resource Center as well and also our Application Compatibility page. And as always, send us your feedback when you're testing the software. Happy testing,
Technical Product Manager
Windows Server Marketing