Microsoft releases Windows Server 2003 R2 update

Microsoft Tuesday made available a long-awaited interim update to the current version of Windows Server by releasing Windows Server 2003 R2.

Microsoft Tuesday released to manufacturing a long-awaited interim update to the current version of Windows Server OS, Windows Server 2003 R2.

The update, which will be generally available to customers in about 60 days, should be 100 percent compatible with applications running on the current release of Windows Server 2003, said Bob Muglia, senior vice president for server and tools at Microsoft, in a webcast Tuesday morning. "If you have deployed Windows 2003 today you can feel confident deploying this without a long test cycle," he said.

Microsoft released the first preview of Windows Server 2003 R2 in August and another preview in October.

Virtualization is a key focus of the update, which is designed to work closely with Virtual Server 2005, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and Systems Management Server (SMS) as part of Microsoft's Dynamic Systems initiative, Muglia said.

Microsoft recently simplified its virtualization licensing for Windows Server System, of which Windows Server, MOM and SMS are a part. The company no longer requires a customer to pay for inactive or stored virtual images of Windows Server System on a network. Instead, Microsoft now only charges for the virtual images of Windows Server System products actually running on a customer network.

Microsoft also enables customers to have four virtual machines running on top of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server "Longhorn" Datacenter Edition at no extra cost.

As part of its continued focus "to take a leadership role in virtualization," Muglia said Microsoft is offering a special promotion for Windows Server 2003 R2. Customers who purchase the enterprise edition of the update with get Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition for US$99 until June 30, 2006, he said.

The new Windows Server release also includes a key identity management technology for the company, Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), which introduces the idea of federated network identity into the OS, Muglia said. This enables companies to securely provide distributed identification, authentication and authorization for users across organizational and platform boundaries.

In addition, Windows Server 2003 R2 also promises new branch-management capabilities; better Unix interoperability through the inclusion of the Unix subsystem within Windows; and a new version of the .Net framework, .Net 2.0, Muglia said.

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