Network Basics: Windows 2008 Server Operating Systems

The Microsoft Windows 2008 server operating systems (consisting of the Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2) are closely related and build on each other and on past releases.

Windows Server 2008

In February 2008, Microsoft finally released the successor to Windows Server 2003, not surprisingly known as Windows Server 2008. Windows Server 2008 adds many new features to Windows Server 2003, including the following:

  • Even more enhancements to Active Directory, including the ability to manage digital certificates, a new type of domain controller called a read-only domain controller, and the ability to stop and restart Active Directory services without shutting down the entire server.

  • A new graphical user interface based on Windows Vista, including a new all-in-one management tool called the Server Manager.

  • A new version of the operating system called Server Core, which has no graphical user interface. Server Core is run entirely from the command line or by a remote computer that connects to the server via Microsoft Management Console. Server Core is designed to provide efficient file servers, domain controllers, or DNS and DHCP servers.

  • Remote connection enhancements that enable computers to establish web-based connections to the server using the HTTPS protocol without having to establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection.

  • Yet another new version of the Internet Information Services (IIS) Web server (7.0).

Windows Server 2008 R2

In the fall of 2009, Microsoft issued an update to Windows Server 2008, officially called Windows Server 2008 R2. Network administrators the world over rejoiced, in part because most of them are also Star Wars fans and they can now refer to their favorite operating system as “R2.”

R2 builds on Windows Server 2008 with a variety of new features, including virtualization features that let you run more than one instance of the operating system on a single server computer, a new version of IIS (7.5), and support for up to 256 processors.

Also, R2 officially drops support for 32-bit processors. In other words, R2 only runs on server-class 64-bit processors such as Itanium and Xeon.