Customers are a little closer to having a shiny new CD with
Windows Server 2003 R2 in their hands.
Microsoft released its updated server software to manufacturing
Tuesday, six months after public beta tests began on the updated
A public beta of the software was released in May showing off the
new additions to the software and giving customers a chance to see
what's been improved.
The full product update comes in Standard, Enterprise and
Datacenter editions in both 32- and 64-bit versions. A fourth
edition, Server 2003 R2 Web, is solely devoted to Web-based
applications, pages and Web services.
The small- to medium-sized business (SMB) version of the
software, Small Business Server 2003 R2, is expected in the second
quarter of 2006.
Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 was also released to manufacturing
For those who want to get their hands on the software now,
Microsoft is making an evaluation copy available later this week for
download. Users can upgrade the evaluation copy, which features a
180-day license, to the finalized version when it's released within
the next 60 days.
Jeff Price, a senior director in Microsoft's Windows server
division, said the changes from the public beta to the final release
weren't as noticeable as what you'd find with a major software
upgrade. Since the code for R2 is based entirely on Windows Server
2003 Service Pack 1, released in February, the process was much more
"Typically a lot of the testing we get done in a major release is
application compatibility testing, so we'll get reports from
customers we need to address there," he said. "But our internal
testing shows that R2, because it is the same code base, is 100
percent compatible with the service pack 1 product. That, of course,
accelerated testing and deployment quite a bit."
Redmond was looking at five major themes to define Windows Server
2003 R2: Web platform technologies, virtualization, data storage and
Microsoft is keen on promoting its virtualization efforts, the
ability to run multiple instances of an application on one server,
and continues that push with Server 2003 R2.
The company is offering customers Virtual Server 2005 for $99 if
they buy it in conjunction with the enterprise edition of the server
The company eased its licensing terms around virtualization in
October, stating R2 enterprise edition with users with Virtual
Server 2005 would be able to run four instances of the software on
To help out on the hardware front, and push its software onto
other platforms, Microsoft has baked WS-Management support into R2.
With this support, other server tools also incorporating the
specification -- such as Sun Microsystems or HP can
manage, and be managed by, Windows Server 2003 R2.
Other enhancements in Windows Server 2003 R2 include the ability
to move Unix-based tools and applications to the Windows platform
without having to rewrite code; Active Directory Federation
Services, so users and business partners can sign in once and access
different applications and services within the corporate network;
and new storage and remote office management enhancements
Windows Server 2003 R2 pricing remains the same as its SP1
predecessor. The Standard edition starts at $999 for five client
access licenses ($1,199 for 10 CALs) while the enterprise edition
runs $3,999 with 25 CALs.
The datacenter edition is only available through original
equipment manufacturers (OEM) (define). The Web edition is also only
available through Microsoft partners and runs $399.