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Networking changes to Windows Server 2003

Apr 07, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* WINS to be included in Windows Server 2003

In our continuing look at what’s new and improved in the upcoming release of Windows Server 2003 today’s focus will be on networking and communications.

Traditional Windows networking based on the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) will still be with us in Win 2K3. That’s surprising because WINS is the name service for NetBIOS networks, and NetBIOS saw only limited implementation in Windows 2000 as it was quickly supplanted by the TCP/IP protocol and the DNS.

Although WINS (and NetBIOS) will be included in Windows Server 2003, there will be minimal changes and improvements. Few enterprises will start new NetBIOS implementations although home networking and some workgroup computing may still rely on this very mature (but, alas, nonroutable) technology. The 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 also remove support for Novell’s IPX/SPX protocol. Since NetWare pretty much runs on TCP/IP now, anyway, that’s probably a moot point.

With the move to IP networking based on DNS, the Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) has come into its own as the best way to assign scarce IP addresses to machines that need them, when they need them. DHCP is also very useful for dynamic networks because moving a cable doesn’t necessarily require that you revisit every desktop to reconfigure its networking specifications. Windows 2000 has a very good DHCP server built-in, and Windows Server 2003 wisely doesn’t change its configuration and operation. The only noticeable change, in fact, is a better-organized snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) to make it easier to accomplish necessary tasks.

New protocols are supported as well as new versions of older protocols but there doesn’t seem to be anything that isn’t already supported by Win 2000 that is patched and maintained up to date.

In fact, it may have been the networking and communications area that pundits were looking at when they said Windows Server 2003 was merely an incremental improvement over Windows 2000 Server. Nevertheless, there are many, many small and subtle changes all designed to make administration of Windows Server 2003 easier and more efficient than previous server versions.

There’s a 40-page white paper outlining all of the changes and improvements in the networking area ( which you should download and read. It’s pretty dry stuff and there’s little that will get you excited enough to rush right out and order Windows Server 2003 upgrades for all your servers, but it could make interesting reading on your next long plane flight or on the commuter train on your way home tonight.