Network Basics: Windows 2003 Server Operating System

Microsoft released several versions of its Windows-based server operating system. Each new release builds and adds to the prior version. Windows Server 2003 operating system, still in wide use, included the following features:

  • A new-and-improved version of Active Directory with tighter security, an easier-to-use interface, and better performance.

  • A better and easier-to-use system management interface, called the Manage My Server window. On the flip side, for those who prefer brute-force commands, Windows Server 2003 includes a more comprehensive set of command line management tools than is offered by Windows 2000 Server. Of course, the familiar Microsoft Management Console tools from Windows 2000 Server are still there.

  • A major change in the application-programming interface for Windows programs, known as the .NET Framework.

  • Support for ever-larger clusters of computers. A cluster is a set of computers that work together as if they were a single server. Windows 2000 Server Datacenter Edition and previous versions supported clusters of four servers; Windows Server 2003 Enterprise and Datacenter Editions support clusters of eight servers. (Obviously, this is a benefit only for very large networks.)

  • An enhanced distributed file system that lets you combine drives on several servers to create one shared volume.

  • Support for storage area networks.

  • A built-in Internet firewall to secure your Internet connection.

  • A new version of Microsoft’s web server, Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0.

Windows Server 2003 comes in several versions. Four, to be specific:

  • Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition: This is the basic version of Windows 2003. If you’re using Windows Server 2003 as a file server or to provide other basic network services, this is the version you’ll use. Standard Edition can support servers with up to four processors and 4GB of RAM.

  • Windows Server 2003, Web Edition: A version of Windows 2003 optimized for use as a web server.

  • Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition: Designed for larger networks, this version can support servers with up to eight processors, 32GB of RAM, server clusters, and advanced features designed for high performance and reliability.

  • Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition: The most powerful version of Windows 2003, with support for servers with 64 processors, 64GB of RAM, and server clusters, as well as advanced fault-tolerance features designed to keep the server running for mission-critical applications.