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Microsoft Win Server 2008 R2 pre-release details

Microsoft is offering pre-release documentation on how to configure new technologies that are part of Windows Server 2008.

The documentation, available on Microsoft TechNet, is a library of technical information for IT shops evaluating the R2 beta software. Most of the information has been available from the company's Web site, but Microsoft is touting the free online help in order to pull the server out of the shadow created by the hype around the forthcoming Windows 7 and to help IT learn the integration points around the two operating systems.

Both the R2 server OS, which is 64-bit only, and Windows 7 went into beta on Jan. 8.

The R2 beta is expected to be generally available at the end of this year or early in 2010. Microsoft is aligning R2, which briefly was referred to as Windows Server 7, and the client OS Windows 7 although Microsoft officials have not said if they will ship together.

Speculation is that Windows 7 could ship sometime between July and September, but Microsoft's publicly stated ship date is still early 2010.

The documentation includes an exhaustive list of the new features in R2, including dependencies such as the need for a failover clustering role to be added and configured on servers running Hyper-V in order to support the new Live Migration capabilities. Other areas include AppLocker, Networking, Smart Cards and User Account Control.

Also included is migration documentation, tools and step-by-step guidance, along with tips to configure and management technologies available within the server.

R2's integration with Windows 7 is high on the server's feature list. The integration points include a laundry list of technologies including DirectAccess, which lets Windows 7 PCs directly connect to intranet-based resources without needing a VPN .

Other Windows 7 integration points include Branch Caching, which caches frequently used content on a branch-office network; a read-only Distributed File System (DFS) to improve branch office security, power management via Group Policy, BitLocker drive encryption for USB drives referred to as BitLocker To Go, and an Offline Folders feature for mobile users.

This week, Microsoft highlighted its new mobile strategy, and hinted at roles the client and server OS might play. The company rolled out a new mobile OS at the Mobile World Congress, and squashed rumors that it would develop a Microsoft-branded phone.

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