Microsoft on Tuesday shipped what could become the final code for the next version of Windows Server 2003.
The company made available for download what it calls Release Candidate Zero (RC0). A release candidate signifies that Microsoft has completed the software's feature set and met certain internal benchmark tests for stability. Microsoft officials said they plan to release an RC1 after evaluating feedback from testers of RC0. The final version of Windows Server 2003 R2 is expected to ship by the end of the year.
Windows Server 2003 R2 is built upon the recently released Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1, a collection of updates since Windows Server 2003 was released.
Key features of the R2 server include Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), branch office support, integration of Services for Unix into the core operating system, new storage management features, support for the .Net Framework 2.0 and enhancements to the Windows SharePoint Services collaboration features.
Microsoft plans to release R2 at no charge for Software Assurance customers, but will require purchase of a new server license for those not on the software maintenance plan.
Microsoft announced the first public beta of R2 in May of this year after a private beta with some 3,000 testers.
The software will be made available in Standard, Enterprise and DataCenter editions. The R2 release candidate zero is available for download at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/r2
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