R2 on Disk 2

R2D2 At the end of 2005, Microsoft started a new tradition, releasing Windows 2003 R2 (short for Release 2). There are two important factors for this R2 release:

  • Windows 2003 R2 is Windows 2003 with Service Pack 1 built in.
  • It has no new kernel changes or modifications to the core OS. The R2 relates to a second supplied CD that contains new features originally slated for and built in to the Windows Server 2008 OS.

R2 releases will be seen in other products in the Microsoft line. Windows 2003 R2 comprises two CDs: the first CD contains Windows 2003 with SP1, and the second contains the new content. After installation of the first disc, the installer prompts the user to insert the second CD.

If a server is already running Windows 2003 SP1, only the second CD has to be inserted. The only actual change made to the core OS is that a new version of the MMC (3.0) is installed before the second CD is executed and new features are added.

The new version of the MMC allows for new functionality provided by the updated management console, which some of the R2 component snap-ins require.

Add/Remove Programs is updated to allow for the installation of the new R2 components, and the Manage/Configure Your Server Wizard introduces a new SharePoint role and updates the File and Printer Server roles.

View the R2 as a collection of useful feature packs, but installing them does not affect the core OS. There are no separate service packs for Windows 2003 and Windows 2003 R2 because they are the same core OS. You don’t need to retest your software and recertify applications any more than if you installed a feature pack on a server.

The only testing to perform is to ensure that any MMC snap-ins run with MMC 3.0. You run a mixture of Windows 2003 and Windows 2003 R2 systems in your environment.

Upgrade to R2 only those servers that require some of the new features R2 contains—don’t upgrade every server.

For an existing Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 system, only use the second CD of R2, which “upgrades” it to R2. (It updates the MMC and modifies Add/Remove Programs to let you add the new R2 features.)

R2 contains a mixture of brand new features and features previously available as feature pack downloads (for example, ADAM and SharePoint services). The new features are summarized as follows:

  • The new Distributed File System Replication (DFSR) engine facilitates simplified branch office management by performing delta replication of files between locations. Delta replication means that only the changes to a file replicate instead of replicating the whole file.
  • Active Directory Federated Services (AD FS) extends the visibility of a trusted organization’s directory service to allow its users access to Web-based applications in another organization.
  • WSS SP2 is .NET 2.0–compatible and certified to run on 64-bit. (It is 32-bit code but is certified to run in Windows on the Windows subsystem that 64-bit OSs use to run 32-bit code.) SharePoint Services SP2 supports Kerberos authentication and fully integrates with Windows (now shows as a Server role and in Add/Remove Windows Components).
  • Improved UNIX integration and management capabilities, including password synchronization between UNIX and Windows. Mixed mode support enables a mixture of Windows and Interix libraries.
  • .NET 2.0 is included as well as the Common Log File System (CLFS), a callable driver that provides a robust sequential logging environment for use by applications as required.
  • Improved hardware management. A Simple SAN MMC snap-in enables full life-cycle control of most small-to-medium SAN environments via the Virtual Disk Service (VDS), which includes creation and assigning of logical unit numbers (LUNs), configuring connections, creating partitions, and so on.
  • A new Quota Management component comprising three technologies. One component is a new quota system based on the physical space (rather than logical size) used on a disk. If users compress files, they store more data, which was not the case in a logical size quota.

Why put out an R2 release?

Microsoft already set a precedent with feature packs that added functionality to the Windows 2003 product as free downloads from the Microsoft site, so why not just have the R2 features provided as downloads as separate feature packs?

There are two trains of thought on this issue. It’s important to realize that Windows 2003 R2 is a separate product; there is no upgrade version or free update. You have to purchase Windows 2003 R2, even if you already own Windows 2003.

However, after release, Windows 2003 R2 replaced Windows 2003 in the retail channel. So, if you purchased Windows 2003 on or after December 6, 2005, you automatically got Windows 2003 R2.

The first and probably official reason for the R2 version is that the functionality added by the R2 release is too significant to give away as a free download, requires more support, and warrants a new “version.” The second reason is slightly more sinister, but understandable.