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TechNet Update Find Out How R2 Works for You
Geof Wheelwright


When Microsoft rolls out new releases of fundamental products like Windows Server™ 2003, you want to take full advantage, but you also want to avoid the headaches that can come when you start making changes to a stable server platform that you know well. The key lies in arming yourself with the right information to make good decisions about evaluating, planning, and deploying new releases.

R2 Comes From You
New releases, particularly "R2" releases, typically contain a lot of changes that are the direct result of listening to feedback from IT pros, so you really owe it to yourself to see whether those changes help to make your life easier. Consider this example from Windows Server 2003 R2. Customers often asked about being able to interoperate better with UNIX, so the Windows Server team added features in the new release to make that easier. That improved support comes through Microsoft® Services for Network File System (NFS), a component of Windows Server 2003 R2 that allows users to transfer files between Windows Server 2003 R2 and UNIX computers using the NFS protocol.
We know that NFS components were previously available in Services for UNIX 3.5, but Microsoft Services for NFS is an update to those components. It includes support for 64-bit hardware, an updated Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Microsoft Services for NFS Administration snap-in, better reliability, and support for UNIX special devices. There are also some nice touches around identity and access management for mixed environment, such as the provision of UNIX password synchronization, which helps integrate servers running Windows® and UNIX by simplifying the process of maintaining secure passwords.
There’s a lot more on this issue, and many others, at TechNet online. You will, for example, find the Windows Server 2003 R2 Roadmap where you can get one-click access to download R2, access the Reviewer’s Guide, look at FAQs, view webcasts, read planning and architecture-related documents, and get a sense of how R2 would impact the worklife of you and your team. You can find specific information on UNIX interoperability for R2 at "R2: Product Help (R2 only)" with detailed analysis of both Identity Management for UNIX and the Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications that’s built into Windows Server 2003 R2.
IT pros also asked for an easier way to manage distributed, remote servers such as those in branch offices, so R2 provides for that. If you really want to drill into how this works, there are some great webcasts available. You can try the one on Branch Office technologies hosted by Drew McDaniel at Administering and Maintaining the Branch Office Technologies in Windows Server 2003 R2 or check out all the Windows Server 2003 webcasts in the TechNet Webcasts directory.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 Makes Testing Easier
A final example of how R2 releases arise from IT pro feedback comes from the recent Virtual Server 2005 R2 release—IT pros said they wanted to automate and consolidate software testing and development environments. The development team learned that manually maintaining all those test environments was a real pain. As a result, Virtual Server 2005 R2 provides the tools needed to consolidate test and development server farms and automate the provisioning of virtual machines.
Check out the fascinating online chat with Bob Muglia, senior vice president for the Windows Server division, and Mike Neil, product unit manager for Windows Virtualization. For a full tour of Virtual Server 2005 R2, visit Virtual Server.

Geof Wheelwright is a consultant on information architecture for the TechNet online group at Microsoft. He is currently working on enhancements to TechNet Solution Centers. Geof can be reached at v-gwheel@microsoft.com.
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