Microsoft Releases Beta of Windows Server 2008 R2

The beta of Windows Server 2008 R2 is currently available for download by TechNet Plus and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers, as well as by technology enthusiasts. The public beta was published on Jan. 2, according to a Microsoft Download Center page, where enthusiasts can get the beta.

Microsoft's server news was somewhat eclipsed by the release of the Windows 7 client beta, as announced on Wednesday by Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Microsoft's server and client Windows operating systems now share a common code base, which may account for the coinciding release dates.

Both betas, at least, share the same expiration date in August 2009.

The common code base signifies "a new level of synergy between server and client operating systems," according to Oliver Rist, Microsoft's technical product manager for Windows Server marketing. He cited a number of management benefits with the R2 beta, including improved remote access, a BranchCache facility and improved group policy and security controls.

A highly anticipated feature in the R2 beta of Windows Server 2008 has to do with the server's virtualization component, called Hyper-V. Microsoft has made it easier with this beta to move virtual machines around without service disruption. This new "Live Migration" feature is explained more fully here.

The R2 beta uses the PowerShell 2.0 management tool, which includes "over 240 new cmdlets out of the box" plus development tools for creating new ones, Rist explained in the Windows Server Division Weblog. Microsoft is currently working on adding new "GUI-based management consoles" based on PowerShell, he added.

Many of the features in the R2 beta were described late last year. Microsoft's partners have been reviewing the new R2 Windows Server technology for a few months now, and a pre-beta of Windows Server 2008 R2 was unveiled in late October at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.

In early November, Microsoft made a big splash at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference over the ability of Windows Server 2008 R2 to handle 256 logical processors. A Microsoft official suggested at WinHEC that Microsoft will be better positioned to address about half the server market using the new beefed up processing power in Windows Server 2008 R2.

The new R2 server may offer some advantages for database administrators who plan to run Microsoft SQL Server on it, according to a post by Microsoft blogger Andrew Fryer. Running SQL Server on the Windows Server 2008 R2 core can boost memory and CPU capabilities, provide greater security and make patching easier, he claimed in his blog.

TechNet subscribers can access the Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta here. MSDN subscribers can get it at this link. Windows Server 2008 is only available as a 64-bit solution.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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