Windows Server 2008 R2 with Windows 7 could be the end of the VPN

Windows Server robot
Say hello to Windows Server 2008 R2. Live Migration for virtual machines is the promised "marquee feature" of WS2008 R2, says Oliver Rist on The Windows Server team blog. But that may not be the OS's most important contribution. If the team has its way, enterprises will be drawn to the R2/Windows 7 combo to end the reign of VPNs as the mainstream method of secure networking.

The team gave a sneak peek of WS 2008 R2 at the Professional Developers Conference today showing off new features and improvements. The OS is promised to be on track for delivery per Microsoft's published product road map. R2 is slated for release sometime within 2010, giving Microsoft at least a year, and maybe closer to two, before delivery.

WS2008 R2 will also dovetail with the planned release of Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008 R2, says Rist featuring, of course, the long-awaited Live Migration, plus other features included in the next version of Hyper-V. Similarly, Rist says Terminal Services will get such a major face-lift, it will become the means for enterprises to finally deliver desktop virtualization en masse. He writes:

"Terminal Services is updating its remote applications feature to include a true Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Think desktops and applications wrapped in virtualized packages, managed centrally and deployed to Windows 7 desktop with such tight integration most users will be unable to tell the difference between centrally hosted apps and those installed locally. (And don’t worry, a Web Access feature will let Windows XP and Windows Vista users in on the fun, too.)"

Support for 32-bit will be gone completely, so forget about using it on 2- or 3-year-old servers, but management features will improve significantly. In particular, R2 will sport new server role-specific management UIs built on PowerShell -- and PowerShell itself is in the process of a major release. PowerShell 2.0 has been in Community Technology Preview release since November and includes, among other things, a Graphical PowerShell UI. (Text-based scripting is so 1980's.)

But that's not all. The WS2008 R2 will also include updates to Microsoft's Web server, IIS 7.0, including support for PHP and WebDAV (as well as assorted Microsoft technologies like Silverlight).

Rist says even though Live Migration has been in the spotlight, his pick for a little-known but hugely important feature is something called DirectAccess, which will take care of securely connecting R2 with Windows 7 without a VPN. He writes,

"With DA, remote computing essentially becomes invisible for end-users. Using technologies like SSTP and IPv6 combined with way-easy management UIs in Windows Server 2008 R2, admins can build remote computing policies that let users plug into any network, anywhere and see their local network resources — completely secure, no clunky VPN required. As long as there’s an outward network connection, DA takes care of everything in the background and automatically."

So those of you who say hello to Windows Server and Windows 7, may be able to say good bye to the VPN.

Visit the Microsoft Subnet home page for more news, blogs, podcasts.

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Also see:

10 questions for Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 guy, Jason Hermitage17 job-hunting resources for Windows prosUnder the hood of Hyper-V (master list of links)Glenn Weadock on Windows Server 2008Library of Windows management tools from A Better Windows Worldall Microsoft Subnet Microsoft newsletter. (Click on News/Microsoft News Alert.)

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