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Innovation

Windows Server 2008 R2 finally gets its day in the sun

Microsoft officials highlighted the company's wave of enterprise server products during the kick-off keynotes at the company's TechEd Europe conference on November 9. Among this wave is Windows Server 2008 R2 (WS2008R2) -- the server complement to Windows 7, which has a lot of unsung features that could be of interest to IT pros, if only they knew about them, company officials said.

Microsoft officials highlighted the company's wave of enterprise server products during the kick-off keynotes at the company's TechEd Europe conference on November 9.

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While the majority of the Microsoft's marketing and advertising muscle has been behind Windows 7 for the past couple of months, this week, the focus is on the server side of house. Windows Server 2008 R2 (WS2008R2) -- the server complement to Windows 7 has a lot of unsung features that could be of interest to IT pros, if only they knew about them, company officials said.

Microsoft officials have been touting the same handful of new WS2008R2 features as being key to IT pros, such as Hyper-V live migration; and better branch caching support and VPN-less networking (BranchCache and  Direct Access) when Windows 7 is used in conjunction with WS2008R2. But there are more than 100 features that are part of the WS2008R2 release. I asked Microsoft recently for a list of what it considered the top ten unsung features in the product. I compiled the list in the form of a slideshow.

Check out the slideshow: Ten unsung Windows Server 2008 R2 Features

As Microsoft officials have said for the past month, customers can begin to take delivery of Exchange Server 2010 starting today. (Microsoft released Exchange 2010 to manufacturing in October.) Microsoft also announced on November 9 that it has released to customers Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server. That on-premise offering will be complemented by a new, Microsoft-hosted Forefront service that will protect on-premise inboxes from spam and malware.

Exchange Server 2010 is a 64-bit-only release. The product includes new, integrated e-mail archive functionality; the ability to see text previews of voice mail; a new “Conversation View” feature; customizable call-routing menus; and a “MailTips” feature designed to help stamp out e-mail “faux pas.” It also includes a newly renamed version of Outlook Web Access (now known as Outlook Web App) that works with a variety of browsers

Microsoft originally was on tap to unveil Office Mobile 2010 at this week's TechEd show in Berlin but took that topic off its agenda late last week. (I'm betting Office Mobile 2010 will get its day in the sun at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, which starts on November 16.)

Microsoft officials emphasized during the TechEd Europe keynotes and Q&A that customers shouldn't wait to deploy Windows 7, WS2008R2, Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft's other new wares. Microsoft has been going public with names of corporations that already have begun deploying these products to reinforce this message.

IT pros: Are there any Windows Server 2008 R2 and/or Exchange Server 2010 features you're especially interested in?  Any features that didn't make it into the final versions of these products that you're hoping will be incorporated in the next round?

Update: Directions on Microsoft's Rob Helm tweeted today that Exchange Online users won't get Exchange Server 2010 functionality "for at least a couple of months." I asked Microsoft for clarification and received a confirmation:

"Exchange Online is updated quarterly with new features and capabilities. With the launch of Exchange 2010 next week, we will begin the process of updating Exchange Online. We expect those to be available to Microsoft Online Services customers next year, and customers will determine when their users are upgraded to the new capabilities, without the traditional investment of time and energy required for an on-premises upgrade."

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