The long-awaited update is now widely available, pre-installed on hardware or as enterprise Software Assurance updates.
Microsofts long-awaited Windows Server 2003 R2, the update to Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1, is finally generally available, the company said on Feb. 1.
This widespread availability follows the December 2005 release to manufacturing of the final code for this server software.
Microsoft customers will now be able to buy Windows Server 2003 R2 pre-installed on hardware through companies such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, and Microsofts enterprise Software Assurance customers will get their Windows Server 2003 R2 updates in the near future.
With R2 comes new functionality such as better branch office efficiency, improved identity management, more efficient storage management and a better Web platform, Jeff Price, Microsofts senior director for the Windows Server Group, said Feb. 1.
Windows Server 2003 R2 will also allow storage partners to enhance integration and compatibility efforts through the Simple SAN (storage area network) program, with new features such as SMfS (Storage Manager for SANs) and FSRM (File Server Resource Manager).
"Hitachi Data Systems is the first Fibre Channel vendor to reach the full solution designation," Price said.
Bob Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for Windows Server, said at last years Professional Developers Conference that R2 would bring features such as Services for Unix, the WS-Management (Web Services-Management) standard, along with the next generation of the management console, MMC 3.0.
"Closing the loop between developers and operational systems still has a long way to go, but delivering MMC 3.0 is the first deliverable in that regard," Muglia said.
To read more about Bob Muglias take on Windows Server R2, click here.
Microsoft is also offering a copy of Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition at the reduced price of $99 through June 30, 2006, to customers who acquire a license of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition.
The company also said on Feb. 1 that the ISA Server 2004 Service Pack 2 is now available and includes three new feature enhancements: Microsoft Update and BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Services) caching; HTTP compression; and application traffic prioritization.
"ISA Server 2004 SP2 integrates with Windows Server 2003 R2 to provide advanced policy-based protection for branch office servers and clients," Price said.
The new service pack is available via automated distribution from Microsoft Update, or can be downloaded at the MSDN Download Center.
Microsoft also updated its Windows Server System Midsize Business Promotion, announced at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last July.
Click here to read more about the Microsoft bundle for midsize businesses.
"As of today, customers who take this promotion, which currently includes Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, will now get Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition, because the ability to efficiently manage branch offices, storage and Web platforms is critically important for midsize businesses," Price said.
Microsoft also released an update to Microsofts BOIS (Branch Office Infrastructure Solution Guide), which is essentially the companys guidance to its customers and industry partners on how to build, deploy and operate Windows Server, ISA Server and related products in a branch office environment.
"Version 2 of this guidance will include downloadable, customizable templates based on improvements in Windows Server 2003 R2," Price said.
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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
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