Hi All,

In tandem with the release of the Windows 7 Beta, the Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta is also now available for testing.

More information and links to the beta downloads can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/R2.aspx

The beta can also be downloaded via TechNet and MSDN.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the next version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. Building on the features and capabilities of the current Windows Server 2008 release version, Windows Server 2008 R2 allows you to create organization solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than previous versions of Windows Server.

Developing upon the increased security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means your organizations can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise.

Improving the Web Application Platform

Windows Server 2008 R2 includes many improvements that make this release the most robust Windows Server application platform yet. These improvements comprise new features in IIS 7.0, as well as other areas of Windows Server 2008 R2, to help applications run faster while using fewer system resources. The improved features also combine to help reduce the effort to administer and support Windows Server–based applications as well as improve availability, reliability, and scalability.

Improvements to IIS and the Windows Web platform which are included in Windows Server 2008 R2 include: reduced effort to administer and support Web-based applications, enhanced security for Web-based applications, improved file-transfer services, the ability to extend the functionality and features for Web-based applications, and improved availability and performance for Web-based applications and services.

Enabling Server and Desktop Virtualization

Virtualization is a major part of today’s data centers. The operating efficiencies offered by virtualization allow organizations to dramatically reduce operational effort and power consumption. Windows Server 2008 R2 provides the following virtualization types: Client and Server virtualization provided by Hyper-V and Presentation virtualization with Remote Desktop Services. Hyper-V virtualizes the system resources of a physical computer allowing you to provide a virtualized environment for operating systems and applications. Remote Desktop Services (formally known as Terminal Services) virtualizes a processing environment and isolates the processing from the graphics and I/O, making it possible to run an application in one location but have it be controlled in another. Presentation virtualization allows users to run a single application, or a complete desktop offering multiple applications.

Improving Power Management and Streamlining Management

The ongoing management of servers in the data center is one of the most time-consuming tasks facing IT professionals today. Any management strategy you deploy must support the management of both your physical and virtual environments. To help with this problem, Windows Server 2008 R2 has new features to reduce the ongoing management of Windows Server 2008 R2 and to reduce the administrative effort for common day-to-day operational tasks. And these administrative tasks can be performed on the server or remotely.

With the proliferation of physical computers in data centers, power consumption is of paramount importance. In addition to the cost-saving associated with reducing power consumption, many data centers are constrained by the number of computers they can support in their data center by the actual power available to the data center. Therefore reducing your power consumption also allows you to support more physical computers while using the same amount of power, or less power, than before.

Scalability and Reliability

Windows Server 2008 R2 is capable of unprecedented workload size, dynamic scalability, and across-the-board availability and reliability. A host of new and updated features will be available, including leveraging sophisticated CPU architectures, increased operating system componentization, and improved performance and scalability for applications and services.

Windows Server 2008 R2 is the first Windows operating system to be offered for only 64-bit processors. And Windows Server 2008 R2 can now support up to 256 logical processor cores for a single operating system instance, including enhancements in Hyper-V virtual machines which are able to address up to 32 logical cores in a single VM. These improvements not only guarantee more bang for your server hardware buck, but also offer better reliability with fewer locks and greater parallelism.

Making the Experience Better Together with Windows 7

Windows Server 2008 R2 has many features that are designed to specifically work with client computers running Windows 7, including simplifying remote connectivity for corporate computers by using the DirectAccess feature, Secured remote connectivity for private and public computers by using a combination of the Remote Workspace, Presentation Virtualization, and Remote Desktop Services Gateway features, and Improved performance for branch offices by using the BranchCache feature.

Nick.