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What administrators can expect from Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 will include management features that are the result of administrator feedback on Windows Server 2008.

LOS ANGELES -- Live migration and 64-bit core support may be getting the most attention in the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2 release, but the new management features may have the most appeal for administrators.

Day to day management improvements and altogether new features were not ignored in this revision, a beta that is expected sometime between December 2008 to February 2009, Microsoft said. The final revision of Windows Server 2008 R2, also known as Windows 7 Server, won't be out until some time in 2010, said Ward Ralston, group product manager, Windows Server division, at the Professional Developers Conference 2008 here this week.

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First up is a new Active Directory Administration Center that combines the AD, users and PCs, domain and trusts and sites and services administration consoles into one console that uses PowerShell.

"AD, DNS, DHCP and more can all be administered with hundreds of cmdlets built into R2," Ralston said. "We've made it easier [for administrators] by using PowerShell to encapsulate batch files of commands." There is also the site, where administrators can share scripts or get advice from Microsoft MVPs. Of course, IT can still use traditional management means, such as the Server Manager that requires no PowerShell experience.

A Best Practices Analyzer feature will be integrated into Server Manager -- the primary management tool for the server. This feature recommends the healthiest configuration for a given server role based on the environment it is residing in, but also recommends ways to optimize existing configurations.

"It makes it so IT can run systems as efficiently as possible whether that system is AD or messaging," Ralston said.

Another efficiency feature is called Power Management that automatically throttles back the power on a server when not in use. It looks at workloads 10 times every second to shift power up or down based on usage.

"[Power Management] collects that usage information on the desktop and the server, and IT can use that information to apply group policies to each laptop or server," Ralston said.

A change based on admin feedback is for a one-to-many experience with the Server Manager, Ralston said.

Rather than having to be physically located at a server or laptop where Server Manager is installed in order to make a change, R2 lets Server Manager come up on any PC or server where the administrator happens to be working, he said.

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