Rich New Features
Beyond new replication capabilities are a host of rich new features and services that Microsoft has been touting for a long time, including identity and access management, storage management, and better application development inside and outside an organizations traditional boundaries. On top of the rich new feature set, Microsoft has gotten "much, much better" in terms of deliverables to customers, lack of notable bugs and general hardening of security, Didio said."[Customers] like the hardened security," she said. "They like the patch management schedules. Youre getting the stuff once a month. Its not an onerous, confusing, painful task that it was this time two years ago."Microsofts documentation has also improved, Didio saida factor whose importance shouldnt be overlooked. "You cannot overstate the importance of good documentation: going up on the Web, being able to get good white papers," she said. "[Plus] the fact that Microsoft has also strengthened a number of compatible hardware devices, peripherals, that will work with this. That will help." Not that R2 is bulletproof, Didio said. Customers would love the search capabilities of the Mac operating system, for example, or to get their hands on Windows File System. As it now stands, Windows Longhorn Server, which is due in 2007, will bring a range of developer-focused technologies such as Terminal Services, networking, management and storage, including the transactional file system, which is an update to NTFS. But all in all, R2 is a no-lose situation, particularly given that its based entirely on Windows Server 2003 SP1, Fichera said. "R2 is additional functionality, so theres no requirement for people to load it," he said. "I think they took a pretty intelligent approach to regression testing. Nothing in R2 interferes with the base functionality." What that means is that R2 wont break applications like its ancestor, 2003 R1, and its client counterpart, Windows XP Service Pack 2, which both broke several key Microsoft and third-party applications when released. Muglia said that the breakage was caused by the need to trade off: In return for lost application compatibility, the software received better security, he said. But now that customers have experienced the pain of SP1s breaking applications, theyre over that hump and wont have to endure it with R2, Muglia said. "The concern customers were having with SP1 is really a non-issue with R2," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.