Changes/Addition in Features in WS 2008 R2 vs WS 2008

We were building applications based on windows Server 2008 and with the advent of Windows Server 2008 R2, I tried to understand the new features that are added. Though there are a lot of features added, I am summarizing the features that I see would impact software developers and software development in enterprises

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 will be available only as x64 bit machines. You can  still enable 32-bit applications to be executed through WoW64 as in Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition. But it it time that x64 is understood well and its pitfalls.
  • Hyper V 2.0 is available in WS 2008 R2.  Support for up to 256 logical processor cores (Windows Server 2008 supports 64 logical cores). Hyper-V virtual machines support up to 32 logical cores (Hyper-V 1.0 supports 4 processor cores).Boot physical machines from .vhd files enables installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 to physical and virtual computers using the same .vhd files.
  • If the password of an account that is used as identity for services is changed by an admin, the managed service account feature will update all services automatically. (Requires R2 functional level). I can easily change password for the accounts without much overhead.
  • ASP.NET is now available for install as server role in ServerCore role of Windows Server 2008 R2 . there is a new version of IIS ie IIS 7.5.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 reduce the number of UAC prompts that local administrators and standard users must respond to. You also are provided with 4 prompt levels now compared to 2 in Vista. Never notify me,Only notify me when programs try to make changes to my computer,Always notify me,Always notify me and wait for my response. This gives administrators more control over how UAC prompts users.
  • Support to perform track configuration changes to IIS and applications is available. I consider the tracking support very useful for tracking changes to IIS settings and web.config files.
  • One another good addition is Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) to help administrators reduce best practice violations by scanning an IIS 7.5 Web server and reporting when potential configuration issues are found. Can we add more practices to BPA specific to our application?
  • BitLocker to Go is a new feature in Windows 7 that allows you to encrypt data on removable drives such as USB sticks. This is a cool feature and if i Lost my USB stick, others cannot just like that read the data and have to take efforts to read the data. What i do not like is that you have to encrypt the entire memory stick. I prefer to have an unencrypted section for files that need no protection. Then, there would be no support to write to encrypted USB sticks on Windows Vista and Windows XP.
  • A new feature called DirectAccess will allow VPN-less connection to corporate networks for Windows 7 users. IP-HTTPS is a new protocol for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that allows hosts behind a Web proxy server or firewall to establish connectivity by tunneling IPv6 packets inside an IPv4-based HTTPS session.Look at this Technical Overview of DirectAccess in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2  and Windows 7 DirectAccess – the killer Enterprise feature. Will this feature make VPNs obsolete?Another important observation is that  it’s only available for use with Windows 7 clients and requires the use of IPv6
  • Biometric support Windows® 7 enables administrators and users to use fingerprint biometric devices to log on to computers, grant elevation privileges through UAC.In addition, it provides a common set of discovery and integration points that offers a more consistent user experience across devices and applications.