Windows 2008 R2 is almost here

It is just 2 days until the release of Windows 2008 R2. While a lot of people are hanging out for the Windows 7 (released on the same day), it is the new server operating system that is going to make waves in server rooms everywhere.

Significant improvements have been made to Hyper-V in the form of Live Migration (think VMotion but without the price) and support for more memory and more virtual CPU’s.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Microsoft have already changed the game by making Virtualisation affordable to the masses and that now they are beginning to add Enterprise Features. Hands up who thinks VMware ESXi would exist if Hyper-V didn’t?

Windows 2008 R2 is also the enabler for many of the enterprise features of Windows 7. The server component of the DirectAccess “VPN-less VPN” feature requires Windows 2008 R2. DirectAccess does have some fairly specific requirements that make it more suited to medium to larger sites. Businesses with highly mobile work forces should also consider it as a way to simplify end-user remote access experience and as a way to better manage laptops that spend a lot of time out of the office.

The server can also be used in conjunction with BranchCache to reduce pressure on WAN links and accelerate access to services that use SMB, HTTP or BITS for remote users. Think of this as WAN acceleration but without dedicated hardware. Nice one Microsoft!
One of my personal favourites is the Active Directory undo feature. I would never admit to doing this myself, but I am sure a few accidents have happened over the years where this feature would have saved a lot of pain and agony!

The ability to park CPU cores is an interesting feature which allows the server to actually turn-off cores within a CPU when they are not required. This has the potential to save significant amounts of power and lower the operating costs of servers. Power consumption as the focus of governments globally and it my opinion is going to be an area where technology innovation is focused.

Don’t forget that this release builds on the many features of previous Windows versions. Remote Desktop Services, Network Access Protection, Distributed File System, Active Directory, Read-only Domain Controllers, IPv6, Windows Deployment Services etcetera. It builds on the same reliable, understandable and efficient foundation we already have with Windows 2008.

One more small note, this is a 64bit only operating system, time to consign those old 32bit only items to the giant recycling bin in the sky (some may of course not meet the criteria to get into software heaven and spend the rest of eternity being prodded with a blunt fork somewhere very hot). Software vendors should be supporting modern technologies by now. If they aren’t it is definitely time to put the pressure on. Isn’t that why we pay annual maintenance fees?

Microsoft will release Windows 2008 R2 on October 22nd 2009. No news on when or if we are likely to see R2 releases of Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008 has been announced yet.

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