With all the hype over the release of Windows 7 Release Candidate today, one of the things that is getting over looked is the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 RC (man that is a mouth full!) got release as well.
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.
While there are many great features in the next release of Windows Server 2008. Three stand out in my mind as the reason organizations will look to adopt.
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. With the next release we add LiveMigration, the ability to move a running VM from one node to another with no application downtime.
BranchCache in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 helps increase network responsiveness of applications, giving users in remote offices an experience more like working in the head office. When accessing content stored on Windows Server 2008 R2, users in a branch office don't need to wait as long to download files from headquarters. When IT enables BranchCache, a copy of data accessed from an intranet web site or a file server is cached locally within the branch office. When another user on the same network requests the file, the user gets access to the content almost immediately as it is downloaded from the local cache rather than over a limited bandwidth connection back to headquarters.
One common problem facing most organizations is remote connectivity for their mobile users. One of the most widely used solutions for connecting remote users is a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Depending on the type of VPN, users may need to install VPN client software on their mobile computer and then establish the VPN connection over the Internet. The DirectAccess feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 allows Windows 7 client computers to directly connect to intranet-based resources without the complexity of establishing a VPN connection. The user has the same connectivity experience both in and outside of the office. The following figure contrasts the current VPN-based solutions with the DirectAccess solution.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Reviewers Guide
Top 10 IT Pro Tasks Made Easier by Windows Server 2008 R2
Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 TDM Whitepaper
Direct Access Technical Overview
Direct Access Executive Overview
Windows 7 Networking Executive Overview
Windows 7 Networking Enhancements for Enterprises
BranchCache Executive Overview
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your downloads: Windows 7 RC is now available on MSDN and TechNet. (Remember how I keep telling you the reasons why you want that subscription!). Here is the public announcement from Microsoft Ireland. What I like about this announcement is some of the Partners I am responsible for in my role are called out for their internal adoption of the Beta.
Dublin: April 30, 2009: Microsoft has reached a significant milestone with the Release Candidate (RC) of the highly anticipated Windows 7 operating system, now available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Broader, public availability will begin May 5, and will be accessible from www.microsoft.com/windows7 site. Based on feedback from millions of customers and partners around the world, the Windows 7 RC is on track to provide customers the quality and value they want and need.
“We’ve been listening to what our Partners and Customers have been saying,” says Ronald Dockery, Business Manager, Client, Microsoft Ireland. “With Windows 7 we focused on what customers told us they liked, and we made improvements to what they didn’t like. “
More than 32,000 participants from approximately 10,000 companies have signed up to have access to a breadth of helpful tools and resources needed to prepare for Windows 7. Irish Partners such as Novosco, Brandon Consulting Ltd, Maxima Ireland and Nitec Solutions have already invested significant time and resources to preparing for Windows 7, demonstrating their support and excitement.
The RC milestone is an important step on the path to final delivery for Windows 7 as it indicates the operating system is entering the final phases of development and is ready for thousands of partners to test, evaluate, and develop new applications, device drivers, and services. As a result of this work, customers will have access to the broadest array of software and hardware options the industry has to offer. The milestone also indicates now is the time for IT pros to evaluate Windows 7, put it through its paces, and examine how it will operate in their environment.
Novosco is a leading provider of virtual infrastructure services in Ireland. The Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner specializes in helping its customers solve business challenges with emerging technologies and offers services across a broad range of areas: infrastructure optimization, disaster recovery, compliance and security, productivity and performance, managed services. With Windows 7 Novosco users have experienced improved system performance. “Everything is faster,” explains Colin Rainey, Technical Manager at Novosco. “From the boot-up sequence to finding files on the corporate network to connecting to the domain, our employees have noticed phenomenal improvements in performance.”
“What’s even better is that by eliminating performance-related calls to the help desk, which also supports external customers, those support employees are free to help our customers and keep their systems running efficiently.,” says Rainey.
Gary Melvin, Sales Director of Brandon Consulting Ltd said, “Having deployed Windows 7 internally and with selected customers we have noticed sizeable performance gains on the same hardware running previous versions of windows , in particular boot times , extended battery life and ease of use around mobility.”
According to an independent report by Forrester Research: “…The beta of Windows 7 shows significant promise, and most IT operations professionals are looking forward to its availability and eventual enterprise deployment.”
In the same report, Ben Gray notes “start preparing for it now, and the best way to prepare for Windows 7 is by deploying Windows Vista. Short of that, begin testing your applications and hardware for compatibility against Windows Vista; It will pay off with greater compatibility with Windows 7.” (“Get Ready for Windows 7”, Forrester Research, Inc., April 2009).
Designed to improve workforce effectiveness and productivity, Windows 7 delivers advanced capabilities driving maximum value from IT investments. IT professionals and small and medium businesses will find that Microsoft is committed to delivering tools and support that enhance software compatibility as well as ease deployment and migration concerns. For IT professionals in enterprise environments, Windows 7 along with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, an add-on subscription, helps enterprise customers make people productive anywhere, enhance security and control, streamline IT management, and reduce costs. Some key features for IT professionals include:
· Direct Access: This feature enables IT Managers to provide the mobile user with reliable and secure access to the corporate network resources when user is on the Internet, without having to initiate a VPN connection. It also allows servicing and updating of remote PCs, even when they are on the road. This helps to ensure that all mobile PCs are always up to date and Powershell means IT Pros can automate many standard tasks, to help reduce helpdesk costs, minimize user disruption and ease PC management. Direct Access is delivered by Windows 7 with Windows Server 2008R2.
· BranchCache: Delivered jointly by Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2, this feature enables IT pros to decrease time branch office users spend waiting to download files from remote servers by caching the previously accessed content locally in a branch’s network.
· BitLocker™ and Bitlocker To Go Drive Encryption: This helps ensure that sensitive data is protected across PCs and removable storage devices.
Windows 7 RC builds upon the beta version with a focus on simplifying everyday tasks, working the way customers want and making new things possible. The latest version of Windows was designed to ensure the highest level of device and application compatibility with software and devices that worked with Windows Vista. New to the RC are advancements, such as Remote Media Streaming, Windows XP Mode (beta) and Windows Virtual PC:
· Remote Media Streaming: Enables secure, remote Internet access to home-based digital media libraries from another Windows 7 PC outside the home.
· Windows XP Mode: Utilizing Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode allows small and medium business users of Windows 7 users to run many Windows XP productivity applications, launched right from the Windows 7 desktop. Windows XP Mode will be available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate customers via download or, for the best experience, preinstalled directly on new PCs. As part of today’s announcement, Microsoft is releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC. For larger businesses where management is important to reduce the total cost of ownership, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) within the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) adds management to Windows Virtual PC including centralized policy, administration experience and deployment.
In addition, some innovative features were enhanced for Windows 7 RC based on feedback received during the beta period:
· Refined navigation: Several minor enhancements to the Windows Taskbar, Jumplists, and search make navigation and finding exactly what you want much easier
· Internet Explorer 8: InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer 8 prevents browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies and usernames/passwords from being retained by the browser. With Windows 7, you can start an InPrivate session straight from the Jump List. You can also open a new tab from the Jump List.
· Windows Touch: Controlling the computer by touching the screen is a core Windows 7 user experience. Improvements in the RC includes several Windows Touch updates, including the ability to drag, drop and select items with touch, even inside Web sites that scroll both horizontally and vertically.
For those interested in previewing Windows 7 and experiencing the new features first-hand, the Windows 7 RC will be publicly available in the coming week on the Microsoft Download Center (http://microsoft.com/downloads). For customers who want to take advantage of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC, there will also be a download available on the site.
Win an Xbox 360 Elite. We, the TechNet team in Ireland would like to know how they’re doing and what we should be doing differently. Please, answer our online survey and be put in a draw to win an Xbox 360 Elite!
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And you thought you were busy! Imagine being in the software distribution division at Microsoft this week! Yesterday Service Pack 2 for Office 2007 was released and today Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 was completed! And tomorrow Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 RC’s will be released for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. That is a whole lot of downloads! So what’s new in SP2 for Vista and W2K8?
We have always said better together for Windows Vista and Server 2008, SP2 provides an improved power management (both on the server and the desktop), which includes the ability to manage these settings via Group Policy.
For more information on SP2 for Vista and Server 2008 please see:
Office Service Pack 2 includes major performance enhancements for Office applications, most notably Microsoft Office Outlook, as well as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. One big benefit is SP2’s boost to interoperability — with this release, Office supports additional built-in file formats such as PDF and ODF.
Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=b444bf18-79ea-46c6-8a81-9db49b4ab6e5&displaylang=en.
Unless you live under a rock or don’t work in IT (in which case why are you reading this blog) you should by now have figured out that Microsoft has a new desktop OS coming soon. So if you are an ITPro and you have a new OS, then you have to be thinking about how am I going to deploy it, how am I going to secure IT and what benefits is it going to have for my business and users. Every business situation requires different deployment strategies, every business requires different security strategies and to make the right choices you need to hear about your options.
www.TalkingAboutWindows.com offers IT professionals genuine insight on Windows 7 from the Microsoft engineers who helped build the product such as Jon DeVaan, Gabe Al, Sharif Farag, and Mark Russinovich. Additionally, you will hear real world commentary from IT Pro Managers direct from the trenches; there is even a video from my good friend Mitch Garvis, Canadian MVP for EBS on his deployment experiences.
When you combine Talking About Windows and the Springboard Series – IT Professionals have a great deal of resources to help them consider their options and learn more about Windows 7!
This site is about shared experiences. I am a very big promoter of the IT Community experience through online communities, local user groups and networking sessions like TechNet events. The best way to learn about new solutions is from people who have already experienced it. My recommendation is to get involved in any of the 3 community types mentioned, and start making contributions.
(Note the 7-11 Big Gulp cups, this is based on my life and desk!)
Be sure to come back to www.talkingaboutwindows.com as they will be adding more engineering and customer videos in lead up to general availability of Windows 7 and keep in mind that the Release Candidate experience starts very soon :)
There has been many rumours in the past few weeks around the release date for Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate). Last night the Windows Team made an announcement on their blog that should be good news to everyone who has been testing Windows 7 .
“I’m pleased to share that the RC is on track for April 30th for download by MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Broader, public availability will begin on May 5th.”
One of the new features that will be part of the Release Candidate review process is Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7. Windows XP Mode provides you with the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC.
All you need to do is to install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode which is a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC. The applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7. Microsoft will be soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate.
I had the opportunity to see this in action recently and it is absolutely amazing. On one of my past sites we were limited by the browser that could be installed on desktops due to compatibility issues with the JD Edwards. With Windows 7 and Windows XP Mode we would have been able to have an IE6 Icon on the desktop for the JDE client while still taking advantage of Windows 7 and IE8 for daily computing needs. This will help remove most of the application compatibility issues that limited the adoption of Windows Vista in small, medium and enterprise environments.
One interesting addition for VirtualPC under Windows 7 is the ability to control interaction between the parent and child host and USB devices. Anyone who has used virtual technology of any kind has struggled with using USB key drives, USB hard drives, etc. With this release you can select which running OS (VM) has control over the USB device, and change these allocations on the fly. Additionally, you are able to see the hard drives attached to the parent from within the VM, and just interact with them directly.
XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7). XPM works much like today's Virtual PC products, but with one important exception: As with the enterprise-based MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) product, XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.
If you have a TechNet subscription, next week the FUN will begin. If not, then consider one as it truly is an IT Pro’s best friend for testing or wait for the public release on May 5th.
Let the RC testing begin!
You may have heard that Windows 7 includes new features and enhancements to help improve security. But what are they specifically and how will they make your Windows clients safer? TechNet Magazine’s An Introduction to Security in Windows 7 provides a great overview of the most significant security enhancements and features, from the new Biometric Framework and AppLocker to improvements for BitLocker and UAC.
Also worth checking out in the May issue of TechNet Magazine, is an article on PKI Enhancements in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. This article looks at Server Consolidation, Improved Existing Scenarios, Software + Services and Strong Authentication.
Earth day is a very big deal in my house. We have long been supporters of environmental causes at home and work, and regardless of political views this is an important issue if only from a pocketbook perspective. You have no doubt heard either myself or Dave discuss the benefits of virtualization with Hyper-V from a power and cooling perspective as well as the power use benefits of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 when compared to other OS’s past and present. These are some of the interesting aspects of the Microsoft product line that impact us in a Green way daily.
One of the other ways to work Greener is to work from home when possible and I did just that today. Using Office Communications Server 2007 R2 I was able to participate in conference calls from my house with colleagues, I collected my email through RPC over HTTPS and connect to all my required documents on SharePoint sites with no VPN through DirectAccess as part of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. All of these technologies might not be directly Green, but they help me easily work from home productively while not driving to the office, taking a bus or riding the LUAS.
TechNet Magazine published this special online-only Green IT issue for IT Pros earlier this evening.
The issue features a strong collection of new and archived articles, including:
· Framework for Building a “Hyper-Green” Virtual Server System
· Planning Your Power Management and Virtualization Strategies
· Essential Tools for Planning Your Virtual Infrastructure
· Enforce Power Management Settings in your Organization with Group Policy
· Sleep or Hibernate?
· Is It Time to Turn Off Your Servers?
· Conserving Energy with Group Policy
· Plan and Optimize Your Infrastructure to be Energy Efficient with System Center
· Build a Green Datacenter
It is worth noting that the release of the magazine not only coincides with Earth Day but, perhaps more importantly, the 1st anniversary of the Sustainable IT online column in the magazine. The issue also nicely compliments a separate Green IT publication released by Microsoft earlier this year for strategic architects: The Architecture Journal – Green IT Computing.
Happy Computing, Reading and Power Saving to all, and to all good night
One of the conversations I most commonly have with customers and Partners alike is around Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. The conversation tends to be around when is Windows 7 coming out and what will the support be for those still on Windows XP. As I have posted in the past, there is a path and method for moving from XP.
There also needs to be accurate information as to why it will be important for customers to move from Windows XP at some point soon to either Windows Vista or more likely Windows 7. A lot of organizations currently on Windows XP will love the new interface, ease of use, and increased security that Windows 7 provides but he biggest driver for most organizations will be the looming end of mainstream support for Windows XP.
Below are some excepts around the support for Windows XP communications.
"It’s important to remind customers that Microsoft are still planning to retire XP Pro Mainstream support on April 14th 2009 and will only provide OS security updates beyond that date unless the customer has an Extended Hotfix Support contract. MS Extended Support for XP Pro ends on April 8th 2014."
It's more important to get the facts straight. XP will get SECURITY patches all the way though to 2014. It just won't provide operating hotfixes after April 14, 2009. Don't get security and hotfixes confused. Security fixes are specific patches to fix ... well obviously security issues. Hotfixes are fixes for non security issues, say some feature doesn't work as it should, you would need an extended hotfix support contract to get Microsoft to fix it.
Support for Windows XP without a service pack ended on 30 September 2004 and support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 1a ended on 10 October 2006.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 will be retired on 13 July 2010, almost six years after its general availability. As per Microsoft's posted timetable, the company stopped general licensing of Windows XP to OEMs and terminated retail sales of the operating system on 30 June 2008, 17 months after the release of Windows Vista. However, an exception was announced on 3 April 2008, for OEMs installing to ultra low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) either until 30 June 2010, or one year after the availability of the next client version of Windows, Windows 7—whichever date comes later.
On 14 April 2009, Windows XP will begin its "Extended Support" period that will last for 5 years until 8 April 2014.
3. What is the difference between Mainstream Support, Extended Support, and online self-help support?
Mainstream Support phase
Extended Support phase
Paid support (per-incident, per hour, and others)
Security update support
Non-security hotfix support
Requires extended hotfix agreement, purchased within 90 days of mainstream support ending.
No-charge incident support
Design changes and feature requests
Product-specific information that is available by using the online Microsoft Knowledge Base
Product-specific information that is available by using the Support site at Microsoft Help and Support to find answers to technical questions