Windows Server 2008 Release Due By Christmas

Virtualization improvements are among the key new features in the release candidate as Microsoft plans a SQL Server test version soon, as well.
File Classification Infrastructure integrates with SharePoint, so employees can set classification themselves on documents they upload, and Microsoft plans to allow third-party developers and software companies to plug into File Classification Infrastructure itself. IT pros and employees can classify files on a per-file basis, a per-folder basis, or even based on search functionality that looks for specific strings of data within a file.

Microsoft will likely push organizations to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 together, and will strike that "better together" tone in its TechEd keynote. The company said that one early tester, small consulting company Convergent Computing, has been implementing features called Direct Access (which allows easier access to the corporate network without a VPN connection) and Branch Cache (which acts similar to WAN optimization technology) that both require Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, has reduced network bandwidth by 43% in order to save $23,000 a year, and has gotten rid of its VPN concentrator and the software related to it in order to save $40,000 annually.

Microsoft also announced that it would release a limited test version of SQL Server 2008 R2, formerly code-named SQL Server "Kilimanjaro," in the second half of 2009. The company has already said the database software will be released in 2010.

Among the features in SQL Server 2008 R2 will be Master Data Services, which can aggregate and match related data across an organization to give a company a single look of disparate data in order to help businesses reconcile differences in the data and enforce data quality rules. That feature is based on technology acquired when Microsoft bought Stratature in 2007 and is part of functionality formerly code-named "Bulldog."

Another new feature in SQL Server 2008 R2 will be called Application and Multi-Server Management, which simplifies the process of deploying and managing software across multiple instances of SQL Server. Today, much of that process is manual, but this feature introduces a graphical user interface to do so.

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