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Monday, 10 November 2008 07:40

No surprise: Win 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are meant for each other

Although Microsoft is promising Windows 7 is a “major update” to Vista, which in many ways it is, the next version of Windows Server 2008 won’t be called Windows Server 7 but instead “Windows Server 2008 R2” in what is a case of slight mixed messages from Microsoft.

Ok, ok – can there really be any doubt that Windows 7 is a better version of Vista, especially after Steve Ballmer himself said Windows 7 is Windows Vista “done right”?

For all the doubt however that Windows 7 is little more than a service pack 2 for Vista, Windows 7 is still going to be the version of Windows that all XP and Vista users will want, especially given that Windows 7 runs better on existing technology and is even being made to work nicely on netbooks.

Many machines running XP today are more powerful than most netbooks, and if they require any upgrade at all, it would be for memory, thus giving Microsoft its biggest upgrade opportunity in years. Let’s hope they price Windows 7 affordably, and even sell 3 and 5 user licenses for home users at REALISTIC prices in store.

Microsoft could really rake in the cash, especially where the competition is more expensive Mac OS X PCs, and free copies of Linux. 2009 really is a marquee year for Microsoft, if they stuff it up it could well be the beginning of the end of Microsoft’s massive dominance.

But alongside the consumer market is the all important business and enterprise market, and given Linux’s much larger market share in the server market (30% +) compared with only 1.04% of consumer desktops, Windows Server 2008 R2 needs to be an even bigger success than Windows Server 2008 currently is.

Luckily for Microsoft, Windows Server 2008 has suffered none of the vicious Vista reviews, instead being an OS that Microsoft users love, with many even using it in “desktop” mode as a kind of “super Vista”.

While this will likely still happen with Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 is shaping up to be a vastly superior consumer version of Windows, so if it does happen, it will likely be less prevalent than it is today.

Microsoft is promising that Windows Server 2008 R2 builds on the existing version, coming with “new virtualisation tools, Web resources, management enhancements, and exciting Windows 7 integration” which will do all the usual things that Microsoft promises companies, such as saving time, reducing costs and “providing a platform for a dynamic and efficiently managed data center.”

And naturally the usual components plus the new virtualisation components are wihing: IIS 7.0, an updated Server Manager and Hyper-V, Windows PowerShell 2.0 and more, with companies already testing the pre-beta version just as the Windows 7 pre-beta is spreading across the Internet like wildfile.

Continued on page 2.

So, what are the “key” technologies within Windows Server 2008 R2 that Microsoft is touting?

Top of the list is, unsurprisingly, virtualisation. Microsoft happily advocates Server 2008 R2 as the best virtualisation technology, saying it helps you “reduce costs, increase hardware utilisation, optimise your infrastructure, and improve server availability.”

Next on the list is management. Always a strong point, 2008 R2 promises to reduce “the amount of effort you expend managing your physical and virtual data centers by providing enhanced management consoles and automation for repetitive day-to-day administrative tasks.”

Third is the Web, with 2008 R2 promising “the ability to deliver rich Web-based experiences efficiently and effectively, with improved administration and diagnostics, development and application tools, and lower infrastructure costs.”

Fourth on the list is “Scalability and Reliability”.

Microsoft says that with “enterprise IT departments shouldering ever-heavier burdens, Windows Server 2008 R2 has been designed specifically with heavier workloads for both across server and client computing.

“On the server side, R2 includes architectural enhancements for more compute power and role componentisation as well as specific features enhancing reliability and security.”

Finally, integration with Windows 7 is also a “key feature”, with Microsoft unsurprisingly saying 2008 R2 is “better together with Windows 7”.

Continued on page 3.

This is an important selling point, because to activate certain business features, you will need Windows Server 2008 R2, as it “includes technology improvements designed with Windows 7 enterprise users in mind, augmenting the network experience, security and manageability.”

So... the next few months are going to feature a blitz of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 leaks, reviews, updates, betas, release candidates, Microsoft and competitor FUD over who has the best platform, Linux vs Windows face-offs, and the inevitable launch.

While Windows Server 2008 R2 is promised for a 2010 release, as was Windows 7, the WINHEC conference saw one Microsoft presenter confirm that mid 2009 is Microsoft’s preferred release date for Windows 7, something Microsoft had never publicly confirmed before, despite a number of “leaks” suggesting precisely that anyway.

So, while R2 is still promised for 2010, it seems likely Microsoft wants to get it out this year too – why delay 2008 R2 sales until 2010 when it can start making them in 2009?

We’re all yet to see, but the giant has awoken, and it’s going to do some serious stomping in the marketplace.

Linux servers, X server and mainframes – your time is now to make as much noise and as many advances as you can, or be drowned out by a wall of Windows coverage and Microsoft profits.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has much work to do to actually FINISH Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 - all the talk and pre-beta's are good, but where is the final product?

Especially with new versions of Linux coming at a rapid clip, Snow Leopard due in mid 2009 and no doubt a new version of X Server too... pre-beta from Microsoft are important, but even more so is the final product... and the inevitable service packs to come!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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