Windows Server 2003

In 2003, Microsoft released Windows 2003 (WNT 5.2). This was the first server-only release, and there was no Windows 2003 Professional. Microsoft made up for that with a new server version, releasing four Windows Server 2003 products.

The new Web edition was a much-scaled-back version of the Windows Server product and aimed at combating the trend of using free Linuxbased services for hosting web sites. You might run Windows 2000 servers today, so the following list covers the new features of Windows 2003.

These features carried into Windows Server 2008, so they are still reasons to migrate to the latest server OS.

  • The Microsoft .NET Framework became a core part of the OS.
  • New Active Directory features provided prune and graft functionality, allowing you to move and rename domains within an Active Directory forest.
  • Domain controllers were added via a system state backup of another domain controller, instead of copying all domain information over the network.
  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 offered improved security with its default state of lockdown and new management features. IIS 6.0 also featured improved reliability and allowed consolidation where appropriate.
  • Updated Terminal Services allowed access to and control of the server console via the /console switch of the mstsc application.
  • Virtual Disk Service (VDS) provided single interface for disk management.
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) allowed point-in-time copies of information known as shadow copies and provided client side-access to previous “versions” of a share, enabling clients to restore deleted information without administrators performing time-consuming tape restorations.
  • Windows Server 2003 included the visual style of Windows XP but disabled it by default. It is accessible if the Themes service is enabled and the Windows XP theme is selected for the display properties.

An important term to mention here is service pack. Feature packs deliver new features to the OS; however, as with every piece of software, errors creep into the released product. These errors require fixing and Microsoft often releases repairs as hot fixes.

After some interval, Microsoft combines the fixes into a service pack, which might also contain customerrequested updates. Microsoft makes each service pack available from its web site at no charge.

The user installs the service pack onto an installed OS (or directly onto installation media in later versions of Windows). This brings the OS up-to-date with the latest set of fixes and sometimes adds new functionality, although not features or changes that cause compatibility issues.

In Service Pack 1 for Windows 2003, Microsoft added the Security Configuration Wizard, which was a core part of helping to lock down server installations. Service packs are cumulative, so Service Pack 2 contains everything in Service Pack 1.

If you install a new computer, only install the latest service pack—you don’t need to install all the previous service packs.

In the past, if you added new OS components to an installed OS (for example, enabling domain name service [DNS] on a server), you had to reapply the service packs. This is no longer required because the content of the service pack is stored locally on the server to ensure that the newest code is always used.

Microsoft continued to add new features to Windows 2003 via downloadable feature packs. Major new features were not made available in service packs due to past complications, so feature packs were a great compromise.

Users who didn’t want to wait for the next major release could get features as Microsoft released them. Other users were free from installing features they did not want and that could introduce complexity or potential security considerations.

Feature packs available for download include the following:

  • Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM). Active Directory “lite,” enabling multiple directories to exist on a single Windows 2003 or XP machine without the full infrastructure of DNS and other components normally required for a domain. ADAM stores data related to an application that does not require the availability associated with data stored in an AD-based domain.
  • Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). Enables policy backup and restoration of policies, task scripting, better management, and HTML reports.
  • Identity Integration Feature Pack (IIFP). Allows replication among AD, ADAM, and Exchange directory service (2000 and 2003). This is useful in multiforest situations to sync the Global Address List (GAL). IIFP is MS Identity Integration Server (MIIS) lite!
  • ISCSI support. Enables IP-based storage area network (SAN) connectivity via the Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI).
  • Windows Software Update Services (SUS). Deploys critical updates throughout a company in a manager manner.
  • Windows Rights Management Services (RMS). Provides rights management protection with RMS-enabled applications to safeguard digital info when online or offline. Controls, for example, what a person can do when received (cut/paste, forward, and so on).
  • Windows Services for NetWare/UNIX. Offers greater integration and migration capabilities than previous versions.
  • Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) update. Improved SharePoint capabilities and security.
  • Windows Automated Installation Kit. Contains tools and information for the deployment of Windows Vista from a Windows 2003–based infrastructure including Windows Deployment Services (WDS), which replaces Remote Installation Service (RIS) and forms a core part of Windows Server 2008.