The new changes to Microsoft Windows 2008 Servers

A quick look at the major features in the Windows 2008 server line: the original, the 2008 R2 released last October, and an upcoming R2 SP1 version

By  Operating Systems, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

It is only for Windows 7 (Ultimate or Enterprise only) clients and has a long list of additional requirements too. While this has limited utility for shops that are running other operating systems, it shows the beginnings of how Microsoft wants to gain a toehold in this market. Perhaps more useful is that Microsoft has updated and enhanced its VPN support in R2. This makes it easier for users to roam across the enterprise without having to re-enter their authentication credentials when users traverse different networks or wireless access points.

Moving on to the SP1 version, there were several announcements last month from Microsoft that point towards even further enhancements to the Windows Server line. They use technology that they acquired from Calista Technologies in 2008, what they are calling RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory. These are aimed at improved virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) performance. VDI is the ability to use virtual machines to store a desktop image and have it run just the keystrokes and screens on a remote desktop. This can save money on support costs, since each desktop is essentially a clone that is being managed inside a data center.

Part of the issue with VDI is that graphics-rich desktops were sluggish in redrawing the screen over the remote connection, and would show either choppy video or out-of-synch audio, particularly on congested network connections. Microsoft's own Remote Desktop Connection software wasn't much of a performer and the RemoteFX technology will help speed things up by virtualizing the graphics processors that are part and parcel of any modern desktop. Other VDI vendors, most notably Citrix, have announced support for RemoteFX in their product lines. While it is too early to tell whether this will catch on, it is a good indication of how serious Microsoft is in the VDI space and will be a welcome addition to the Windows Server lineup when it comes out.

As you can see, it is tough to keep track of the different 2008 Windows Server versions without a scorecard. These are all great improvements to make Microsoft's server the basis of many powerful and robust applications.

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