This week is just a quick roundup to make sure you're caught up
on all the goodies Microsoft has recently released:

Microsoft's recently released an update to a very useful set of
diagnostic tools for IIS, in a complete Internet Information
Services Diagnostic Tools package. In fact, this package is
updated every quarter (roughly); the current version includes
diagnostics for SLL connections, authentication and access
control problems, Exchange SMTP (which is built on top of the
IIS SMTP server core) problems, and an IIS log parser. The
entire toolkit is now available in three editions: x86 for
32-bit platforms, ia64 for Itanium systems (you all rushed out
and bought Itanium systems for your Web servers, right?), and an
amd64 version for x64 systems (including AMD 64-bit and Intel
EM64T systems). You can also download the tools individually, if
you prefer.

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) has been released. This is
the product originally known as Software Update Services (SUS)
2.0, then Windows Update Services (WUS), and I think it was even
called "The software formerly known as Prince" at one point.
Name waffling aside, it's awesome software for keeping your
network's Windows computers updated. Essentially, it replaces
the official Windows Update Web site on your intranet,
consolidating updates from Windows Update and then distributing
them to your computers in a controlled fashion. Totally worth
your time, and if you're not running a patch management
solution, get WSUS. It's free. It also integrates with Systems
Management Server (SMS), if that's what you're using for systems
management.

Finally, don't forget that Win2003 "R2" is in customer preview
mode. I have to admit, I know a lot more about the technologies
that are no longer in R2 (having been pulled out for various
reasons along the way) than what's left, but the R2 FAQ says
it's basically got improved AD replication for lower-bandwidth
situations (like branch offices), AD Federation Services to help
with cross-organization authentication, and simplified SAN
provisioning and quota management. Obviously R2 also includes
some nicer stability and performance enhancements, and from
talking to folks within Microsoft I think they're going to be
pretty significant. The feature list, however, is pretty
dreary-sounding. A few months ago I was holding out for
Microsoft's new command-line shell, code-named Monad, to maybe
be a surprise inclusion in R2, or even for the long-long-long
overdue Audit Collection Service (ACS, formerly MACS) to be
bundled in. Monad, it turns out, isn't even going to be ready
for Longhorn, and I don't know what the deal is with ACS. R2 is
supposed to include v2 of the .NET Framework, which is also
releasing with SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, so
that'll be nice, but you won't need R2 to get v2 of the
Framework -- it'll be downloadable to all platforms
independently.

Be sure to check out WSUS and the IIS diagnostics kit, and keep
your eyes on R2.

--Don Jones

Comment on this article:
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Don Jones is the owner and operator of ScriptingAnswers.com, a
speaker at national technical IT conferences, and the author of
nearly twenty books on information technology. His latest book
is "Managing Windows with VBScript and WMI" (Addison-Welsey) and
he's completing "Windows Administrator's Automation Toolkit"
(Microsoft Press). You can reach Don at his Web site or at
don@scriptinganswers.com.

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MORE RESOURCES:

* Download the tools from
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/iis/diagnostictools/default.mspx

* Blog a bit about the toolkit at
http://blogs.gr/equilibrium/archive/2005/05/03/IIS_Diagnostic_Tools.aspx

* WSUS (good grief, these acronyms are getting silly) is at
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/updateservices/downloads/WSUS.mspx

* Read more about Win2003 R2 -- such as it is -- at
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/r2/default.mspx

* That R2 FAQ I mentioned is at
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/R2/R2FAQ.mspx