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Product: Windows Server 2003
Company: Microsoft
See Pricing
Review By: Stewart Saathoff



Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Pricing & System Requirements
New Features
4: Creation of ADAM
5: Active Directory
6: Security
7: IIS 6
8: Terminal Services

Well, it’s been a little over three years since Windows 2000 shook up the IT industry.  When Windows 2000 Server debuted, it created a frenzy of training and recertification.  Corporations were now able to take advantage of a NOS (Network Operating System) that had the ease of management that so many Microsoft technologies had provided before then with a Directory Service similar to that of Novell Netware.  But many were less than delighted to see the new product from Redmond.  I was teaching at the time as a Microsoft Certified Trainer and I remember the number of disgruntled students that had just finished their MCSE in NT4 Tracks and recently attained their certifications.  Microsoft announced retirement of the NT4 MCSE and everyone had to get recertified.  Many were quite furious.  Let’s face it though.  Microsoft did have a point.  Windows 2000 was a completely different monster than NT4 was.  Active Directory was much more than a Directory Service.  Intellimirror was a beautiful new technology that, when implemented properly, could save an administrator many hours restoring machines.  But there were flaws…

Windows 2000 was unable to avoid the mounting criticism that all of its predecessors had endured in times past.  The native SECURITY was terrible.  It was relatively easy to lock down a 2000 Server, but you had to actually have to go in and tighten everything manually, leaving room for human error.  Nothing was automatically closed up.  If you installed a new service, you would have to tighten it down.  There was no end to the irritation, but it sure was easy to use.

Enter our Hero!!!  Windows 2003 Server!!!  For those of you thinking it’s only a minor upgrade, you are dead wrong.  This product has been massaged thoroughly over the past three years.  Microsoft has been listening to the requests of the Admin and Developer alike and provides each with a solution that we can be proud of.  Many of you have heard of the tightened security in 2003.  Usually tighter security comes with a price, your time, just look at Linux.  (Although in its defense, Linux is getting significantly better.)  This time, Microsoft has security locked down tight, and there are no apparent problems with the ease of use.  If anything, the OS seems easier to use than before.

Another notable feature that Microsoft has added in Windows 2003 that I did not have time to elaborate on much in this review because of time constraints is VSS.  The Volume Shadow copy Service is a new service in 2003 that is similar to the Salvage Bin in Novell.  An Administrator can enable this service on a drive of a server and periodically the server will take snapshots of the drive.  With this new feature, end users can recover a file if it has been deleted, or even retrieve a previous version if an older on is needed for whatever reason.  Look into it further if you get a chance.

Installation & Setup

Installation of Windows 2003 Server is a breeze.  There are a few differences over 2000.  One of which is that you now must Activate 2003 after finishing the installation.  There is a 60 day grace period before having to activate, so you shouldn’t worry too much.  Another notable modification during setup is that once setup is completed, the operating system is in a locked down mode.  When installing Windows 2003 on a server during the text portion of setup, you are given the option to perform a Quick Format on a new partition.  That is a really nice feature that was introduced first in Windows XP.  This saves tons of time when you think of how long a traditional format would take on a 300GB HDD.

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