REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 6, 2008 — Speaking at Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Los Angeles, Bill Laing, corporate vice president of the Windows Server and Solutions Division, said today that the update version of the Windows Server operating system combines low-cost virtualization, innovative power-saving capabilities, greater scalability and a streamlined Web platform.
PressPass asked Laing to elaborate on some of the improvements incorporated into Windows Server 2008 R2 (previously code-named “Windows Server 7”) and the customer reaction to the current Windows Server operating system.
PressPass: What sort of reception has Windows Server 2008 been getting in the market?
Laing: There’s been a lot of excitement about this product and its momentum is still growing. For example, since its launch in February, we have seen more than one million downloads of the RTM versions of Windows Server 2008, and more than 500,000 customers and 90,000 partners trained on Windows Server 2008.
But the real measure of its success is the bottom-line svalue our customers have been experiencing. For example, earlier this year researchers at consulting agency Capgemini looked at several companies and institutions that were using Windows Server 2008. They found that Windows Server 2008 streamlined their IT operations and improved management, security and reliability. IT costs were reduced by up to $124,000 per year through staff efficiencies and reduced downtime.
PressPass: How does Windows Server 2008 R2 differ from the previous version? What are the most notable new features?
Laing: We think it’s important to give customers a predictable timetable to plan for the next versions of our server technologies. We are working on an update release for Windows Server, named Windows Server 2008 R2, which is in line with the release cadence Bob Muglia outlined several years ago. As part of this update, we are integrating the latest service and feature packs with some new technology investments focused around four categories: virtualization, management, scalability and the Web.
From a virtualization standpoint, we’re building on our state-of-the-art virtualization technology with a newer version of our Hyper-V hypervisor technology as well as some new features that customers have been asking us for, such as Live Migration. This feature, which is included with Windows Server 2008 R2 at no additional charge, lets you move a running workload from one machine to another in milliseconds, with no loss of performance from the user’s point of view.
On the management front, Windows Server 2008 R2 will be a foundation for datacenter automation. We are making multiple improvements that give customers the reins to truly manage their servers the way they desire, whether that is locally or remotely, via a graphical user interface (GUI) or from the command line via Windows PowerShell. We are also making improvements to help customers reduce and better manage their datacenter power consumption. Windows Server 2008 R2 can automatically turn processor cores on and off based on the workload of the system, or reduce the power consumption by adjusting processor speed.
Another area of innovation in Windows Server 2008 R2 is the ability to more easily administer and support Web applications on a streamlined Web platform. We’ve integrated Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS) manager extensions to make it simpler to administer local and remote Web servers, and added support for ASP.NET and PHP to the Server Core.
And finally, we continue to invest in scalability. In Windows Server 2008 R2, we have built in support for up to 256 logical processors, which will allow our customers to more fully exploit today’s powerful CPUs, deploying only the features they choose and scaling those solutions to meet their organization’s needs.
Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President of Windows Server and Solutions
PressPass: You mentioned that you added the Live Migration feature in response to customer feedback. Are there any other features in R2 that are the result of suggestions from your customers?
Laing: We’ve always said that the Windows Server releases reflect the most important asks and needs of our customers. The release of Windows Server 2008 continued this motto, and it is certainly true with Windows Server 2008 R2 as well. We know that the economy is top-of-mind for every business right now, which has put more pressure on IT budgets. With Windows Server 2008 R2, we really focused on this issue. I was speaking before about power management. Giving customers more control over power consumption was an area we heard feedback on. Another suggestion we received was to incorporate Windows PowerShell support on the Server Core installation option. So we now offer the ability to run Windows PowerShell on Server Core and with full support for ASP.NET and PHP. These are just a couple of the changes in Windows Server 2008 R2 that are a direct result of customer and partner input.
PressPass: The industry is abuzz with this week’s Windows 7 announcements. Are there any advantages to deploying Windows 7 with Windows Server 2008 R2?
Laing: Definitely. Because Windows Server 2008 R2 is being developed in tandem with the Windows 7 code, Windows Server 2008 R2 has several features that are designed to work better with computers running Windows 7. For example, we have a new technology called Branch Cache. Any time a document is retrieved by a client in a company’s branch office, Branch Cache keeps a copy in the branch, so if another client in the same office wants to retrieve that document, it can be served up locally instead of across the WAN. The result is a significant reduction in bandwidth use between corporate offices and branch sites, and a huge potential cost saving because most organizations pay for bandwidth by the byte. It also gives branch offices a degree of autonomy in case the link to headquarters is severed for any reason. Remote Desktop Services (RDS), the new name for Terminal Services, is another example. We expanded RDS in Windows Server 2008 R2 so that you can run the desktop or applications in the datacenter while your users can be anywhere.
Another feature, DirectAccess, allows remote Windows users to securely connect to their work environment as if they were on the corporate LAN, and also lets IT administrators fully manage remote PCs securely, as if they were on-premises, but without using a VPN.
PressPass: If a customer is thinking about upgrading to Windows Server 2008, should they wait for R2 to be available?
Laing: We are always refining our products, so we encourage customers to invest in new technology whenever they’re ready to start reaping the benefits of the latest platform. We encourage customers to invest today in Windows Server 2008 to take advantage of the many benefits it offers including virtualization. We have created an easy migration path to help customers move to Windows Server 2008 R2 when it is available, and will work to ensure they have the guidance they need to deploy the new server software.
PressPass: Can you explain the decision to produce only a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008 R2?
Laing: Today, 64-bit processors have become the industry standard for systems ranging from the most scalable servers to desktop PCs. This shift has driven server standards forward, so the 64-bit processor is our focus. Like Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 will provide parity for 32-bit applications with something called Windows on Windows, or WOW. Essentially what we do is emulate the 32-bit, x86 architecture in a seamless way, with no degradation in the application’s performance. The end result is a platform that utilizes the existing wealth of 32-bit applications while also providing a smooth migration path to 64-bit computing.
As I mentioned, Windows Server 2008 R2 also supports more than 64 processors, so customers can take advantage of advancements in hardware. Coupled with SQL Server 2008, this enables an optimum use of hardware to parallelize tasks and boost performance.
PressPass: We understand you are no longer going to support Windows Server 2000.
Laing: That’s right. You can no longer buy new hardware that will run Windows Server 2000, so we’re suggesting that customers who are running this version start the planning process now to upgrade to Windows Server 2008. Windows Server 2008 uses image-based deployment to make the installation process as efficient as possible. We have developed a number of tools and guides to help IT professionals evaluate the migration-readiness of their existing networks, and guidance for customers interested in upgrading.
PressPass: What’s next for Windows Server products?
Laing: We recently released Windows Server 2008 SP2 to Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers for evaluation. At WinHEC, we’re encouraging attendees to try out the pre-beta Windows Server 2008 R2 code, known as Milestone 3. On Nov. 12, we will launch Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008, which are all-in-one solutions that address key small- and midsize-customer pain points by taking the benefits of enterprise-class IT and making it accessible, affordable and less complex.
Throughout the development of Windows Server 2008, we deeply engaged with key hardware, software and service partners to create a solid set of offerings for customers around our new server operating system. We are continuing this approach with Windows Server 2008 R2 and I am excited to be a part of the development process. Whether you look at Windows Server today, tomorrow or in the future, Microsoft will continue to innovate and bring enterprise-class software to customers to fit the changing needs of IT.