As anticipated, Microsoft today released for general download a 180-day trial edition of Windows Server 2003 R2 Release Candidate 0. The nomenclature confused nearly everyone: It’s a preview of what the next release candidate (RC1) should look like, thus the “RC0.” But RC1 is a candidate for what is called “Release 2” of WS2K3.
What changes in R2 is the authentication model, which will be tightened not only for users but also processes which contact one another through the Internet. The model will tighten authentication across forests (multi-domain clusters) through an expansion of the companies “federated forests” model. But perhaps more importantly, the new authentication model may change the way many network applications work. Historically, Windows network applications have been able to bypass process authentication by identifying themselves using a process outside developers have occasionally called “all zeroes.” Some of these applications have not been updated in several years, which is why some organizations have been forced to maintain Windows 2000 systems to support these older, authentication-violating applications.
Postponing an upgrade to Windows Server 2003 because of applications incompatibility problems, is believed to be one reason why some organizations were more susceptible to the Zotob virus than others. In fact, addressing the authentication problem early may be one reason why Microsoft opted to release the unusually coded “RC0,” rather than wait for “RC1.” Large networks may need time to make certain network applications can operate on their computers, before planning a migration program to WS2K3 R2.
Microsoft’s download page for WS2K3 R2 is here… (Microsoft.com)