Windows Server 2003 R2 Components and SBS

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We've heard several inquiries now about installing the new features in Windows Server 2003 R2 in to an SBS 2003 environment.  The chances that any SBS customer actually needs ADFS, FRS-R, or UNIX Identity Management are low.  Very low.  There seems to be a lot of confusion about what Windows Server 2003 R2 really is and how it integrates in to an SBS environment.  [Edit] As most people know by now, SBS 2003 R2 does include File System Resource Manager (FSRM).

When you buy a retail copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 today, there are 2 CDs for the operating system.  From the Reviewer's Guide:

 "the Windows Server 2003 R2 operating system is comprised of two product installation CDs. The first installation CD contains Windows Server 2003 with SP1. The second installation CD contains the components specific to Windows Server 2003 R2. Both CDs use the same product key."

We also know from the SBS FAQ that:

Q. Does SBS 2003 R2 include all of Windows Server 2003 R2? 
A. No. Most of the new features in Windows Server 2003 R2 are designed for medium- to large-sized businesses, and therefore are not applicable to the small business customer. SBS 2003 R2 will only include one Windows Server 2003 R2 component and that component is Windows SharePoint Services Service Pack 2. SBS 2003 R2 will also include updates to Exchange Server 2003 (Service Pack 2), and new automated patch and update management (WSUS 2.0). The Premium version of SBS 2003 R2 will also include SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition.

So, the question comes up, "I've purchased a Standard or Enterprise version of Windows 2003 Server R2, and I want to install the CD2 bits in to my environment.  What's the best way to do this?"

Our recommendations before installing any of the CD2 components are as follows:

  • This goes without saying, but make a new System State backup of all DCs before making any changes.  Preferably, also make ASR and/or full system backups in addition to the System State backup.
  • Carefully consider whether you really need the features included on CD2.  The CD2 apps are not needed to complete the R2 install.  If you finish the install off of CD1, there is no requirement to do anything with CD2.
  • Since the R2 bits are not supported on SBS now, nor will they be when SBS R2 releases, carefully consider your planning requirements and placement of services - all Windows Server 2003 R2-specific must reside on a Windows 2003 R2 domain controller or member server.  The reviewer's guide covers the specifics in more detail.

The procedure to install the R2 CD in an SBS environment is as follows:

  1. Put the R2 CD in CD-ROM drive of your SBS server.  Dismiss the auto-run (see below - we are only running adprep to extend the schema here;  no binaries will be installed)
  2. Run adprep.exe on your SBS server using the instructions from
  3. Take the CD out of the SBS box and complete the install of R2 on your Windows 2003 Server R2 box 

Note:  You cannot install the R2 CD #2 components on your SBS server.  Attempting to run the install will result in the following error message:

Setup cannot continue because the operating system edition is different from the Setup edition.

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  • "The chances that any SBS customer actually needs ADFS, FRS-R, or UNIX Identity Management are low.  Very low."

    You don't think that FRS-R would be useful to a small business?  Who's more likely to have high-bandwidth connectivity between sites, small businesses using basic DSL connections or the big businesses?  I think FRS-R is EXACTLY what small businesses need.  There are many, many cases with small businesses having a few or even many remote sites with 2 or 3 users that could (and should have) benefitted from this.

    I think Microsoft and the SBS team really dropped the ball with SBS R2.  It's barely even a service pack (what does it have that SBS SP1 didn't, as far as new features?), yet requires a new license.

  • Jason,

    We see very few SBS deployments implementing standard FRS now.  With the popularity of CompanyWeb, a lot of things that were traditionally stored in the file system have been migrated to SharePoint as a more full-featured document management system.  Replication isn't even an consideration for the majority of these customers (although a cheap, easy backup solution usually is a high priority).  While FRS-R may be useful for some companies dealing with large binary files (CAD, imaging, etc), for the vast majority of small businesses, it is not an appropriate solution because of the increased difficulty in management and the overhead associated with the service.  I know that bandwidth is still very much a function of geographic region, but we're just not seeing a huge call from SBS customers to save on bandwidth - most have 128-256K up at a *minimum*, and, let's face it, that's more than adequate for most in the SMB market.  In virtually every case I've seen where bandwidth was the over-riding concern, the customer was breaking their TOS by using a home-grade DSL contract for business needs.  In the very few incidents we've seen where there were real bandwidth concerns, either the ISP was oversold or the customer had not adequately researched their business requirements before implementing their network solution.

    From a technical standpoint, it should be pointed out too that DFS-R does not support SYSVOL, which doesn't make this a choice for AD replication.  So, while the initial reaction to DFS-R may be "this is better, it uses bandwidth", this has to be weighed against the data that is being replicated and current load on the server.  In most cases, if you are truly going to gain benefit from this service, you're going to want it on a dedicated server.

    As to what's in R2, I think has the most succint answer:

    What is Windows Small Business Server 2003 Release 2 (R2)?
    A. Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 (SBS 2003 R2) is an update release to the award-winning SBS 2003 product, providing new features to address the growing needs of small businesses. SBS 2003 R2 will offer increased productivity and functionality by adding automated network-wide patch and update management, increased mailbox limits to 75 GB, expanded client access license (CAL) rights (for access to additional Exchange Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition servers in the SBS 2003 R2 network), and the inclusion of the new SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition in SBS 2003 R2 Premium Edition.


  • The SBS Podcast gang has a blog post on how to add a R2 member server to the SBS domain and the blog...

  • What about the print and storage management features? Are they included in SBS R2?

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  • >What about the print and storage management features? Are they included in SBS R2?

    No.  None of the R2 features included on CD #2 of Windows Server 2003 R2 are supported on the SBS server itself.

  • This is one question I get asked a lot, which parts of R2 are in SBS 2003 R2. Obviously SBS 2003 R2 has