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TechEd Welcomes Windows Server 2008 R2 RC

All right children, pencils down. No more answers, jottings, code tweaks – it’s release candidate time and we’re feature-complete. Okay, RC’s been available for a week now, but today is opening day at TechEd, and this is the first venue where we’ll be taking off the wrappers and offering the world a deep dive look at the new code. Including, by the way, some brand NEW features we’ve been saving for TechEd that can be found in the newest RC build.
First off, there’s the File Classification Infrastructure (FCI). With FCI, administrators can classify files not just by tagging, but by file characteristics, including content. They can then manage those files by policy. So, for example, an IT admin can decide that any file containing a social security number, be treated as secure, requiring encryption and backup to a specific location. Windows Server 2008 R2 will respect those policies for any file with an SSN even if those files are created after the policy was built and stored in different places on the network. We’ve made this technology extensible, too, meaning not only that IT admins will have more custom control, but also that third-party ISVs will be able to take advantage of FCI APIs to build new technology on top of R2.  For more info, check out.
But that’s not to say that we’re taking anything away from Hyper-V in R2. This is still the darling child of this release, and it, too, gets some more juice with R2 RC. For one, Hyper-V now supports up to 64 logical processors, double what we were supporting in Windows Server 2008. We’ve also added Processor Compatibility mode. Product manager, Isaac Roybal, goes into this in more detail in his blog post, but in a nutshell, administrators can now migrate VMs between physical hosts that are running different CPUs as long as those CPUs are Hyper-V-enabled and from the same proc manufacturer family.
And last, we’ve even shown some love to Windows Server Backup. This venerable in-the-box backup utility gets a serious upgrade with R2 RC. For one, you’ll find far more granularity available when designing a backup job – no more simply pointing at volumes. You can now backup specific folders, files and even file types, or exclude on that basis as well. System state backups are part of the GUI now as well, where before these were separate command line operations only. They’re also 5x faster and 7x smaller than in Windows Server 2008. And last, you’ve got more flexibility in targets, too. Where in previous versions, a dedicated and re-partitioned disk was your only option, you can now point a Windows Server Backup job at any network folder or volume.
There’s loads more goodness in Windows Server 2008 R2, so check out the Web site for more detail. And if you’d like to hear to truly well-informed pundits talk R2 RC, check out this edition of Ask Iain. Meanwhile, please try out the bits and let us know what you think.

Ask Iain: Windows Server 2008 R2 RC

–Oliver Rist