Microsoft has released Windows Server 2003 R2, an upgrade to its primary server operating system designed to deliver new capabilities for branch-office management, identity and access management, virtualization, and Web technologies.
R2, based on Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, is said to provide faster data replication and advanced compression technologies to help remote offices deal with wide-area network issues.
The software giant also said that, for a limited time, with the purchase of a Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition license, customers can license Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise for $99.
That follows Microsoft's announcement in October that R2 Enterprise Edition licenses now enable customers to run up to four virtual instances on a server at no additional cost.
Windows Server 2003 R2 also provides additional storage-management tools to help customers monitor and control disk-space use through directory quotas, identifying selected file types on servers, and provisioning Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) or Fibre Channel storage-area networks.
In addition to releasing a new version of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft also released Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, a file and print server that has several new features, including single-instance storage, full-text search, and built-in document collaboration with Windows SharePoint Services.
Management Is Key
The enhancements in Windows Server 2003 R2 demonstrate that Microsoft understands the importance of systems management and total cost of ownership for enterprise customers, said IDC analyst Stephen Elliot.
"They have also put a stake in the ground on pricing, but they still need to bring all of the pieces of the infrastructure together because they are now being offered piecemeal," Elliot said.
And while R2 is an improvement over Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, it is still just an incremental upgrade leading up to the 2007 launch of Longhorn, said IDC analyst Al Gillen.
"Demand for this will depend on the need for the new management and data-replication capabilities among business customers," he said. "Some that are not in the software assurance program may hold off given the effort and costs associated with installing a new server operating environment."