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When choosing a Windows Server edition, there are plenty of options out there. Sometimes, it’s hard to choose between one or the other, and sometimes, you want just a little more than one edition might offer. In that case, you only have a few choices: look for later editions, or get the R2 edition of that release.

An R2 edition has the benefit of having a lot of similarities to the original release while also including a lot of new features that provide more for users and administrators.

What Is R2?

The R2 edition stands for “release 2.” Essentially, it is the second edition of a particular Windows Server edition. R2 versions fall between the two other categories for Windows Server: service pack upgrades (which are less extensive) and entirely new editions (which are more extensive). R2 is similar enough to the original release to be a continuation, but different enough to justify a separate release itself.

Why Purchase an R2 Edition?

There are plenty of reasons why you might prefer an R2 edition over the original release. To begin with, an R2 release is sure to have fewer bugs and other issues that might have come with the initial release. There are also more features on offer in an R2 edition, providing more extensive virtualization or security, for instance. Finally, R2 editions that are a few years old are often around the same price as the original release. That means you can get a more advanced edition of Windows Server without paying much more for it.

R2 Editions Available

So far, Microsoft has released three R2 editions. The first is with Windows Server 2003, which is quite outdated and doesn’t provide most of the tools businesses now expect from their server. The second and much more advanced R2 edition came in 2008. And the last (so far) arrived in 2012. Windows Server 2016 is not expected to get an R2 edition.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Inherited Features

If you are interested in Windows Server 2008 R2, you’ll, first of all, get everything you would from the original 2008 release, which includes:

  • GUI-less Server Core Installation Option
  • A More Expansive Active Directory
  • High Availability Thanks To Failover Clustering
  • Hyper-V Virtual Machines
  • Self-Healing NTFS File System

Windows Server 2008 R2 New Features

With the R2 edition, you don’t just stop with those features, though. You also get plenty more, such as:

  • The Windows 7 Kernel: Unlike the original Windows Server 2008, which was built upon Windows Vista and provided a Vista-type experience to users, the R2 edition provides users with the far superior Windows 7 OS.
  • The Recycle Bin For Administrators: A new feature in the Active Directory that ensures nothing is accidentally permanently deleted. Like any Windows edition, it allows administrators to review all deleted files before permanently deleting anything.
  • Best Practice Analyzer: Get more automation for your server so that you can make sure everything is running at its highest level. The server will report violations to administrators so they can fix any issues quickly.
  • Hyper-V Upgrades: Virtualization is far more productive in Windows Server 2008 R2. There is now far better virtual machine movement throughout a cluster with Cluster Shared Volumes. Live Migration allows for transfer between hosts without any downtime or disconnection.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Inherited Features

For those interested in Windows Server 2012 R2, it is worth noting all that they will inherit from the original release. Among other great features in that first release includes all of the following:

  • A new and more corruption-free file format in ReFS
  • More powerful virtualization with a higher capacity for virtual machines
  • An improved and more efficient Task Manager
  • More powerful administrator tools through PowerShell and IP address management

Windows Server 2012 R2 New Features

The above makes for a great edition in their own right, but they are just the beginning with the R2 edition. Among other great new features that improve upon the original release, there are all of the following:

  • Windows 8.1 Kernel: The original release is built upon the much-maligned Windows 8 operating system. R2 users get to work from the much preferred Windows 8.1, which corrected all the faults in the original 8 release.
  • Tiered Storage: Get access to your most important data at the fastest possible rate. The server reorganizes data so that the most popular is stored on the fastest tiers.
  • Data Deduplication: Advances in technology tend to make older servers cramped for space, but 2012 R2 has the benefit of a far more powerful data compression model with data deduplication. This allows the server to remove duplicate data without harming the integrity of the file. In the R2 edition, this can work on both the server and on virtual machines.
  • Desired State Configuration: PowerShell 4.0 (an upgrade over 3.0 in the original release) has a lot of great new tools, but foremost of them is the Desired State Configuration. This adds even more automation to your server by allowing the server to monitor itself to make sure it maintains the standards that your administrators set. When the server fails those standards, it automatically updates itself to return to the ideal state.

Versions of Windows Server R2

Choosing to purchase a Windows Server R2 edition can lead to a far more successful business experience with your server, but before you make that purchase, you have to decide not just on the edition but the particular version you are looking for with Windows Server. Here is a brief overview of the versions we offer.

Essentials

This is the simplest and most slimmed down version of Windows Server. It lacks all the high-end functionality (including all virtualization in some editions). However, it is easier to use than any other server, providing tools to operate the server without any technical knowledge. Ideal for small businesses.

Standard

The version that Microsoft expects to fit most businesses. It includes all basic features and some amount of the higher end capabilities, but it is limited in capacity.

Enterprise

A version retired about 2008; this is the middle ground choice between Standard and Datacenter.

Datacenter

The top of the shelf option with all of the features for that edition. Perfect for businesses with a lot of server demands.