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1. Commentary
- Commentary: Microsoft Ships R2 Public Beta: Should You Bother?

2. Hot Off the Press
- Xbox 360 Revealed

3. Peer to Peer
- Featured Thread: One Security Update Due from Microsoft on May 10
- Tip: How can I create a Microsoft Office 2003 installation source that has an integrated service pack and hotfixes?

4. New and Improved
- Automate IT Processes

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==== 1. Commentary: Microsoft Ships R2 Public Beta: Should You Bother? ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Microsoft has released a public beta version of its upcoming Windows Server 2003 interim release, code-named R2. The release is available through the R2 Customer Preview Program. I've been following R2 development and have been working with beta R2 code for several months now. In this week's commentary, I give you some information about what to expect--and perhaps more important, what not to expect--from R2.

The original concept for R2 grew out of the lengthening development time of Windows Server releases. Given the needs of its enterprise customers, Microsoft settled on a regular schedule for Windows Server releases, although only time will tell how well the company adheres to that schedule. Every 4 years, the company will ship a major release, such as Windows 2003. Between those major releases, Microsoft plans to ship a minor, or R2, release. Windows 2003 R2 is the first of those minor updates; a Longhorn Server R2 release will occur down the road as well.

R2 releases will retain the same kernel as the major releases they follow, ensuring application compatibility. R2 releases will simply be considered the latest version of the current Windows Server product. When Windows 2003 R2 ships later this year, it will simply replace Windows 2003 in the market. However, because it's a minor release, most customers won't want--or need--to upgrade, especially because Windows 2003 R2's original release has been seriously defanged.

Originally, Windows 2003 R2 was to have included two major features that would have made it a far more interesting release to more of Microsoft's customers. The first, Windows "Bear Paw," the next release of Windows Terminal Services, would have let administrators distribute remote applications (e.g., Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel) to users. Instead of needing to train users about Remote Desktop, you could simply distribute applications to them. Users could launch those applications from the Start Menu, cut and paste between them and local applications, and save documents to their My Documents folder, without realizing that those applications were running from a remote server. Bear Paw is a great idea--but it won't happen until Longhorn Server in 2007.

The second major feature that Microsoft stripped from R2 is a fully implemented version of Network Access Protection (NAP), a network-quarantine feature that would prevent remote users from connecting to a private network until they met security requirements. While in quarantine, the users would receive the appropriate updates and then be allowed to access the network. Today (and in R2), Microsoft supplies only basic quarantine functionality that requires a lot of extra work to implement.

R2 is now much less exciting to the average Windows 2003 customer. Instead, R2 targets three specific needs: simpler management tools for businesses with branch offices, cross-business identity federation, and improved storage-management functionality. If you have any of these needs, you should evaluate R2. If you don't, I recommend you skip this release and look ahead to Longhorn Server.

So what does R2 bring to the table? First, R2 will provide simpler management tools for businesses with branch offices. The tools will help you deploy and manage systems in remote offices that have little or no IT staff. There is also a new version of DFS, which Microsoft renamed DFS Namespaces. DFS Namespaces now includes a feature called DFS Replication (formerly File Replication Services), supports multilevel failover and failback, and can work more efficiently over WANs.

Second, R2 supports cross-business identity federation through Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS--code-named Trustbridge). This functionality simplifies collaboration between companies that trust each other. Microsoft says that governments and large international businesses are actively testing this feature.

Third, R2 includes improvements to some of Windows Server's core storage-management functionality. Specifically, R2 will support folder-based quota management. Also, R2 will offer a new Virtual Disk Service (VDS) 1.1-compatible SAN management console called Storage Resource Manager.

R2 offers many small improvements as well. It will include the Windows .NET Framework 2.0, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 2.1, a new Common Log File System, and a new Printer Management console. It will also bundle three feature packs: Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM), Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, and the Subsystem for UNIX Applications (previously known as Windows Services for UNIX).

I hope I've given you the information you need to understand whether you should pursue an evaluation of this product. In upcoming weeks, I'll delve into specific R2 features and look at the ways in which you can deploy and integrate R2 into your existing environments. Though it's been considerably scaled back--a message I suspect Microsoft would rather I didn't communicate so bluntly--the current vision for R2 will be far less disruptive and thus fits rather neatly in its intended interim release mold. So it's not all bad. And certainly, if you've been waiting for one or more of R2's unique new features, it could be quite compelling indeed.

Windows Server 2003 R2 Trial Software (Microsoft)
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/R2/trial/default.mspx

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==========

==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Xbox 360 Specifications Leak
Although next week might belong to the long-awaited movie, "Star Wars: Episode III," this is clearly the week for Xbox 360 hype, which is reaching unprecedented heights with daily leaks and revelations about key system features. Last night, the actual specifications of the new system were leaked to the Internet. And the Xbox 360 is looking like a formidable machine. Read the entire story at the following URL:
http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=46354

==== Events and Resources ====
(from Windows IT Pro and its partners)

The Straight Story on Virtual Server
Here's your chance to ask industry expert Michael Otey your questions about Virtual Server and get from-the-trenches details on how it works and what problems it can and can't solve. Michael gives you the straight story without pulling any punches.
http://www.microsoft.com/communities/chats/default.mspx#05_May25_TN_VS

Improve the Availability of Your Exchange Servers
Managing storage growth, providing application resiliency, and handling small errors and problems before they grow are all important aspects of boosting your Exchange uptime. In this free Web seminar, discover how storage and application management techniques for Exchange can be used to improve the resiliency and performance of your Exchange infrastructure. Register now!
http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/exchangeapplicationavailability/index.cfm?code=0511emailannc

Updating Software on Windows Desktops and Servers: WSUS and Beyond
In this free Web seminar, join industry expert Dan Holme as he explores options for implementing and managing WSUS and other automated solutions in your organization. You'll learn how WSUS makes it easy to keep Windows systems and Microsoft applications up-to-date with patches, security rollups, drivers, and updates. Plus, you'll discover alternatives to manage the deployment and patching of non-Microsoft software.
http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/WSUS/index.cfm?code=0511emailannc

Establish a Manageable Desktop Software Configuration and Control IT Costs
Managing desktop software configurations is a manual process, resulting in unplanned costs, deployment delays, and client confusion. In this free Web seminar, find out how you can meet software-package-preparation requirements and increase your desktop reliability, user satisfaction, and IT cost effectiveness. You'll learn about the new application process, issue management during package preparation, historical recording and reporting, and more.
http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/SoftwarePackagingWorkflow/index.cfm?code=0511emailannc

Get Ready for SQL Server 2005 Roadshow in a City Near You
Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database computing environment. Attend and receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now!
http://www.windowsitpro.com/roadshows/sqlserverusa/index.cfm?code=0509emailanncs

Get Ready for SQL Server 2005 Roadshow in Europe Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database computing environment. Receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register Now! http://www.windowsitpro.com/roadshows/sqlservereurope/index.cfm?code=0511emailannc

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With instant messaging virtually in all corporate environments, and expected to be as prevalent as email in the near future, it has rapidly become an indispensable business communication tool. In this free white paper, learn how you can take control of IM use on your network to ensure security and compliance. You'll learn how to protect yourself from Virus & worms attacks, Identity theft, Leakage of confidential information and more. Download now!
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==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll:
The voting has closed in Windows IT Pro's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Does your company have plans to implement 64-bit computing technology?" Here are the results from the 124 votes:
- 6% We already operate a 64-bit environment
- 6% We plan to move to 64-bit technology within 6 months
- 10% We plan to move to 64-bit technology in 6 months to 1 year
- 17% We plan to move to 64-bit technology within 2 to 3 years
- 61% We have no plans to move to 64-bit technology

New Instant Poll:
The next Instant Poll question is, "How often does your organization force users to change passwords?" Go to the Windows IT Pro home page and submit your vote for a) At least once a month, b) Every 2 to 3 months, c) Every 3 to 6 months, d) Every 6 months or more, or e) We don't force password changes.
http://www.windowsitpro.com/magazine

==== 4. Peer to Peer ====

Featured Thread: One Security Update Due fFrom Microsoft on May 10

Read Mark Edwards's latest comments in the Security Matters blog at the following URL:
http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/46345/46345.html

Tip: How can I create a Microsoft Office 2003 installation source that has an integrated service pack and hotfixes?
by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com


Find the answer at the following URL:
http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=46300

==== Announcements ====
(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: http://www.windowsitpro.com/events )

Storage World Conference, June 7-9, 2005, Long Beach
Register now for Storage World Conference (SWC) 2005 on June 7- 9, 2005 at the Long Beach Convention Center. SWC is the most comprehensive educational program in the industry. Keynotes from: AOL, Chevron/Texaco, EMC, StorageTek, and over 50 top exhibitors. All end-users can attend at no cost. To receive 10% off, use priority code swc10. Register online at
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SQL Server Magazine Monthly Pass = Quick Answers!
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You Be the Judge!
Your favorite products are on trial in the SQL Server 2005 Readers' Choice Awards. Cast your vote now and you could win an iPod Shuffle or a SQL Server Magazine T-shirt. Voting ends May 15, so don't miss out!
http://www.windowsitpro.com/sqlserver/readerschoice

==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Angie Brew, products@windowsitpro.com

Automate IT Processes
Tethys Solutions released Automation Anywhere 2.0, automation software for business and IT tasks. You don't need any programming knowledge because the program lets you record keyboard and mouse actions or create automation scripts using wizards. Automation Anywhere can automatically check inventory and order supplies when it is low, generate reports, and enable fast data entry and formatting. The product's premier version lets you turn your scripts into .exe files that can run on any Windows PC. For pricing, contact Tethys Solutions at 408-839-0548.
http://www.tethyssolutions.com

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to mailto:whatshot@windowsitpro.com.

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==== Contact Us ====

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About product news -- products@windowsitpro.com
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