The Redmond, Wash.-based company unveiled Release Candidate Zero (RC0) of Windows Server 2003 R2. Typically, Microsoft begins the final testing cycle with Release Candidate 1, but this time it opted to begin with a zero. RC0 can be accesssed at www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/r2.
Microsoft said it plans to ship the upgrade by the end of 2005. It would represent the first major release of Windows Server 2003 since the product shipped in April 2003.
Windows Server 2003 R2 will be available in three editions: Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter, Microsoft said.
Built atop the recently released Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, the R2 release offers many new capabilities, including support for all x64 processors, branch-office enhancements such as centralized file replication and printer management technology, built-in Unix interoperability and Active Directory Federation Services.
For example, the rewritten Distributed File System (DFS) and advanced compression technologies, such as Remote Differential Compression (RDC), will improve branch-office replication and the server’s overall performance, Microsoft said.
The long-awaited federation services give Windows users identity and access management capabilities that will allow cross-company e-commerce and support for trusted extranet scenarios between a company and its partners, suppliers and vendors, Microsoft said.
Microsoft also has integrated new storage-management tools, including a File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) that offers storage reporting and a Storage Manager for SANs.
Microsoft said it plans to release Windows Storage Server 2003 and Windows Small Business Server upgrades based on the R2 release.
Though Microsoft is confident that it can meet its targeted release date for the WinServer upgrade, the company earlier this year pulled out two planned features for R2, including integrated Windows Rights Management Services and Network Access Protection (NAP). Plans call for those features to be integrated in the next major upgrade of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn.