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R U Ready For R2?

Forgive me for thinking above that I'm texting this entry. But the R2 release of Windows Server 2003 -- the first comprehensive upgrade to the server software since its original release -- should have users in decision-making mode real soon now.
It's close. R2 got its first "release candidate" rollout this week, which means that Microsoft feels it only needs a bit of public road-testing before it can move to an official release. Of course, as with any Microsoft software release, that doesn't mean it won't be a little buggy in the official version; I still wonder if Redmond thinks of us all as beta testers as much as customers. But you can be sure that the Windows Server team busted butts to make sure that this is enterprise-worthy; if there are bugs, I doubt we'll be seeing any major problems, just small things at the edges.

Besides, as our columnist Jeffrey Shapiro suggested back in the spring when he suggested that users wait out the SP1 upgrade in favor of the full R2 release, the new stuff should be well worth it. Support for all x64 processors, branch-office enhancements such as centralized file replication and printer management technology, built-in Unix interoperability, and Active Directory Federation Services are all part of the package. For now, this would be a perfect time to go back and check out Jeffrey's assessment. And when the final version hits the street, we'll be taking a good, close look at what it brings to the Windows Server community.