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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Client Now Available on MSDN/TechNet!

Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Client Now Available on MSDN/TechNet!

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It’s come round pretty fast I have to say, but Microsoft have announced availability, through MSDN and TechNet (non-MSDN/TechNet subscribers can download them from Friday 9th January), of the beta’s of Windows 7 client, and better still, Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows 7 for Download 

Windows Server 2008 R2 for Download

I’ve been using Windows 7 Client for a while now, and I’m really impressed.  It’s stable, performant, and it’s improved the way I work in terms of accessing my information, and working with it in productive ways.  The early benchmarks are also looking pretty good, trumping both Vista, and XP, in a number of different categories, so good news so far!

You can read about Windows 7 Client, what’s new, and what’s cool, for general consumers, and businesses, here: and you can view some cool videos too:  Cool stuff, I think you’ll agree.

Cool as Windows 7 Client is, for me, Windows Server 2008 R2, along with its increasingly advanced Virtualisation technologies, is where it’s at.  The guys at the Windows Server blog have already announced some of their favourite key features that made it into the beta:

  • While the Windows 7 client is available in both x86 and x64 versions, Windows Server 2008 R2 is Microsoft's first 64-bit only OS. It also supports up to 256 logical processors, which opens up a whole new world of enterprise-class back-end processing power.
  • Your existing servers will run faster, too, because Windows Server 2008 R2 takes advantage of the latest CPU architecture enhancements. You'll also get significant power management improvements via features like Core Parking.
  • Hyper-V in R2 now has Live Migration, allowing IT admins to move VMs across physical hosts with no interruption of service or network connectivity and significant network performance improvements.  Remember too, that Live Migration is a feature that’s built in, for free, so it becomes very accessible for a huge number of potential users, and won’t require System Center Virtual Machine Manager to enable this capability – you’ll be able to Live Migrate and manage VMs using traditional MMCs.  Obviously more control and granularity comes with System Center, but it’s not essential.  VMs in Hyper-V for R2 also get greater access to physical resources, namely support for 32 logical processors. It all adds up to the most flexible virtual data center in Microsoft's history.
  • Check out PowerShell 2.0. Next to Live Migration, "more PowerShell" is the most consistent customer request we've had from Windows Server 2008. So, you'll find over 240 new cmdlets out of the box along with new dev tools for building your own cmdlets that are not only more robust, but easier, too. The new PowerShell is so powerful, we're starting to build GUI-based management consoles that are based entirely on PowerShell in the background-check out the new Active Directory Administrative Center for starters.
  • RDS is another big-time update. What used to be called Terminal Services has now evolved into Remote Desktop Services with the R2 release. Key in RDS is the new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which allows you to centralize Windows desktops in the data center as virtual machines in addition to the traditional session-based remote desktop model we all know and love from Terminal Services. But VDI is only one new feature in RDS. Others include better end-user fidelity with features like true multiple monitor support and high-end audio and video so you've got more breadth in the kinds of applications you can centralize. And the new RemoteApp and Desktop connections feature integrates tightly enough with Windows 7 that users of the new desktop OS won't need to practically differentiate between what's local and what isn't. It all runs off the Start menu.
  • And speaking of Windows 7...Windows Server 2008 R2 is a powerful upgrade to any Windows Server data center all by itself. But in combination with Windows 7 on the client side you'll enter a whole new world of manageability and productivity:
    • DirectAccess makes remote access ubiquitous (I'm nuts about this one),
    • BranchCache can improve file retrieval at branch offices while simultaneously decreasing WAN bandwidth costs,
    • New Group Policy objects allow deeper control of client desktop management, including access, system monitoring and even physical resources like power management,
    • You'll be able to manage and keep data safe even on removable drives by using BitLocker to Go.

I’ve been testing the beta of Windows Server 2008 R2 on a couple of Dell PowerEdge T605’s (12GB RAM, Dual Proc CPU etc), with a software iSCSI Target as my shared storage, and the Live Migration works great, the Cluster Shared Volumes are simple and easy to use, but extremely powerful and resilient under the covers.  Now you can experience it too, so download it, try it, and feed back to Microsoft to make the final release even better.  I’ve got a feeling that Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 are coming quicker than we think….

I would also recommend taking a look at some of these links and resources:


Enjoy, and have fun with the betas!

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  • Hi Matt,

    Great post! It's good to see that all the expected features are present in the beta-especially live migration! We'll get testing that internally ASAP...

  • Cheers mate - good luck with the testing!

  • From here : Microsoft and Marathon Technologies Expand Relationship to Provide Fault Tolerant Computing

  • After my post a few days back, talking about the availability of both Windows 7 Client, and Windows Server

  • Now that Microsoft has released the beta of Windows Server 2008 R2 to the public it’s time to get our

  • At the end of last week, Microsoft announced availability, through MSDN and TechNet (non-MSDN/TechNet

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