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Application support

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Application support

This topic contains a brief overview of the application support features in the Windows Server 2003 family. It is divided into two sections: New and updated features since Windows NT 4.0 and New and updated features since Windows 2000.

For links to more information about the features in this release, see New Features.

The Windows Server 2003 family provides support for a wide range of turnkey independent software vendor (ISV) solutions and a comprehensive set of Internet application services for rapid development of custom applications.


  • The Windows Server 2003, Web Edition operating system is intended for Web application services and not as a general application server.

New and updated features since Windows NT 4.0

The Windows Server 2003 family offers the following improvements (in comparison to Windows NT 4.0) that help provide increased levels of support for applications:

Widest range of turnkey applications
You can run a wide and varied range of applications on the Windows Server 2003 family of products. For the most recent information on compatible applications, see Software compatibility information in the Windows Catalog at the Microsoft Web site.

Comprehensive Internet application services
Using the integrated Web, component management, transaction processing, and message queuing services in this release, programmers can rapidly develop and deploy scalable, component-based applications.

Microsoft Active Accessibility
Microsoft Active Accessibility is an application programming interface (API) that makes it easy for developers to build applications that can be customized for people with varying degrees of disabilities. Because Active Accessibility reduces the need for application-specific code, it reduces overall maintenance costs and allows software developers to innovate in their user interface without sacrificing compatibility with accessibility aids. For more information, see the Accessibility page at the Microsoft Web site.

TAPI 3.1
TAPI 3.1 unifies Internet Protocol (IP) and traditional telephony to enable developers to create computer telephony applications that work as effectively over the Internet or an intranet as over the traditional telephone network.

Transaction services
The integrated transaction services in the Windows Server 2003 family provide simple building blocks that can reliably and efficiently execute complex transactions across widespread distributed networks.

Message queuing
Integrated message queuing functionality helps developers build and deploy applications that run more reliably over networks, including the Internet. These applications can interoperate with applications running on different platforms, such as mainframes and UNIX-based systems.

Component Services
Component Services is a set of services based on extensions of the Component Object Model (COM) and on Microsoft Transaction Server (an earlier release of a component-based transaction processing system). Component Services provides threading and security, transaction management, object pooling, queued components, and application administration and packaging.

Job objects
Products in the Windows Server 2003 family contain an extension to the process model called a job. Job objects are nameable, securable, sharable objects that control attributes of the processes that are associated with them. A job object's basic function is to allow groups of processes to be managed and manipulated as a unit. For example, a Web application can use a job object to account for CPU usage.

Host data integration
Products in the Windows Server 2003 family provide an excellent platform for running database applications by including native support for Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server.

New and updated features since Windows 2000

The Windows Server 2003 family offers the following improvements (in comparison to Windows 2000) that help provide increased levels of support for applications:

Compatibility Mode
Compatibility Mode provides an environment for running applications that more closely reflects the behavior of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000 operating systems. These modes resolve several of the most common issues that prohibit older applications from working correctly. You can also use this technology to create solutions for your own applications. For more information, see Accessing information about compatibility.

Web gardens in Internet Information Services
In Internet Information Services (IIS), a Web garden is an application pool that has multiple worker processes serving the requests that are routed to that pool. A Web garden can be configured so that the processes serving it have affinity for particular processors on a multiprocessor computer. Using Web gardens, Web applications have increased scalability. If one worker process experiences a problem with an Active Server Page (ASP), the other worker processes can still serve content and take over for the locked worker process.

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