The Community Technology Preview (CTP), which is Microsoft's lingo for its release cycle of beta software, is available to MSDN subscribers, TechNet subscribers and Connect customers.
This is the first CTP since Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 was released in April. Microsoft officials say 200,000 copies of Beta 3 have been downloaded.
With the new CTP, Internet Information Server (IIS) 7.0 is now an installation option under the Server Core feature of the server.
Server Core is made up of the Windows kernel and a set of infrastructure "roles," which install only the components needed for any of eight specific functions: Active Directory, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services, DHCP, DNS, File, Print, Windows Media Services and Windows Server Virtualization (when it ships).
The idea is to make deployment less complex and more secure by eliminating unneeded services and installing only the parts of the OS needed for a specific workload.
IIS 7.0 lets users define a configuration using an XML schema architecture to more easily manage configuration of multiple deployments of the software.
It also has a new feature called Failed Request Tracking that helps pinpoint errors in IIS and applications, and allows diagnosis while the software is still running.
Windows Server 2008, which is slated to ship by the end of the year, is focused on three primary areas: management, including Server Core; security, such as BitLocker drive encryption and Read-only Domain Controllers; and performance, including a redesigned TCP/IP stack.
The server also represents the gateway into the world of 64-bit-only server operating systems from Microsoft. The R2 version of Windows Server 2008 slated to ship in 2009 won't include a 32-bit version.
In addition, the server is the other shoe that will drop on capabilities intertwined with Vista, such as Network Access Protection and new Terminal Services features.
This story, "Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2008 Beta" was originally published by Network World.