Microsoft expects to put Windows Server 2003 “R2” (for Release Two) on the market in mid-2005, perhaps four to six months after the debut of SP1. R2, currently slated to be a minor update, will integrate into the OS all the out-of-band feature packs profiled in Chapter 13, so administrators won’t have to continually download these add-on products. Most notably, the GPMC will be included.
R2 will focus mainly on further integration of security updates and the new security-oriented features of SP1, but will provide new functionality such as improved Active Directory support for branch offices, and the new Microsoft .NET Runtime Engine version 2.0. Although those who have purchased the original release version of Windows Server 2003 still will be able to download these feature packs and SP1, the R2 release will integrate all these packages and will replace the boxed product currently available through retail channels.
As of press time, Microsoft plans to release R2 as a separate product that will replace the release (“gold”) version of Windows Server 2003, and thus to upgrade, one would need to purchase a new license for it. There have been reports, though, that new CALs will not be needed to access R2. Of course, Microsoft’s Software Assurance (SA) customers will be able to take advantage of the release when it becomes available at no charge as part of their update agreement.
Obviously, this information is subject to change as Microsoft moves closer to the ...