Introduction to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2: Part 1

Introduction to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2: Part 1


February 20, 2003

The idea behind this article (and future series) is to give an overview of the Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition installation process as currently laid out in the most recent build -- RC2 3718.main.021114-1947. This will eventually lead to the final (GOLD) release to market (RTM) copy of the operating system, which is scheduled for worldwide launch in April 2003.

The information contained within this article is based solely on personal experience with the RC2 product, and the information given, such as minimum system requirements and installation procedures, is current as of the time of writing (February 4, 2003). As with any product in development, all of the following is subject to change.

Please assume that when "Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition" is mentioned within this article, it is referring specifically to "Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2 3718.main.021114-1947" unless otherwise mentioned.

One of the things you may notice is that the name used throughout the article is different from what will show up in many of the screen shots. This is because the name "Windows .NET Server 2003" has been changed recently to Windows Server 2003. You can read up a little more on this on the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Web site.

Windows Server 2003 Family Version Overview

  • Windows Server 2003 Web Server Edition is designed specifically for low-end and entry-level Web hosting environments, providing a specific platform for deploying Web services and applications.

  • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition is designed with the day-to-day needs of the average enterprise in mind and is the progressive replacement for the Windows NT4 Server/Windows 2000 Server line of server operating systems.

  • Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition is designed specifically for the needs of larger customers, as their needs surpass the functional levels of Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition is the progressive replacement for the Windows NT4 Server Enterprise Edition/Windows 2000 Advanced Server line of server operating systems.

  • Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is designed specifically for high-end hardware deployments for use on business-critical and mission-critical applications where the highest levels of scalability and availability are required. Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is the progressive replacement for the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server line of operating systems.

Hardware Requirements for Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition

The minimum system requirements for Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition are as follow:
  • Minimum supported processor speed -- 133 MHz
  • Minimum recommended processor speed -- 550 MHz
  • Maximum number of CPUs supported per Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition server -- 4
  • Minimum amount of supported RAM -- 128 MB
  • Minimum amount of recommended RAM -- 256MB
  • Maximum amount of RAM supported by Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition -- 4 GB
  • Minimum amount of space required for installation -- 1.5 GB. Additional space may be required under the following circumstances:
    • When a FAT16 partition is in use, it requires 100 MB to 200 MB more free disk space than other supported file systems because of cluster sizes. NTFS is the recommended file system for any Server deployment.
    • If you are installing Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition from a network share, you will need approximately 100 MB to 200 MB more space than if you ran the Setup from the CD-ROM because setup needs to use that space for TEMP files associated with the installation. Also, the drive will need to have a formatted partition before the installation process starts so those files can be initially copied. If the partition does not exist beforehand, the over-the-network installation will fail.
    • The amount of disk space required for the swapfile will affect the size of the initial partition, as it is directionally proportional to the amount of physical memory installed in the system. Larger amounts of RAM installed require a larger swapfile and thus, the minimum hard drive free space requirements would need to increase.
  • Monitor requirements -- VGA or higher-resolution required; SVGA 800x600 or higher recommended
  • Other hardware required -- Keyboard and mouse (or other pointing device)

The optional hardware list features items such as CD-ROM or DVD drives, which are only required if a local installation is to be performed or it is otherwise deemed necessary. The optional hardware list also includes a listing for network adapters and related cables from the Hardware Compatibility List. (Personally, I don't see how you can have a server product and list a network connectivity peripheral as an optional requirement, but that is what is printed.)

Here is the table of all of the different requirement levels of the Windows Server 2003 family as provided from Microsoft on its Web site. Another table on the site compares the major features for each version.

Windows Server 2003 System Requirements at RC2
Requirement Standard Edition Enterprise Edition Datacenter Edition Web Edition
Minimum CPU Speed 133 MHz 133 MHz for x86-based computers

733 MHz for Itanium-based computers
400 MHz for x86-based computers

733 MHz for Itanium-based computers
133 MHz
Recommended CPU Speed 550 MHz 733 MHz 733 MHz 550 MHz
Minimum RAM 128 MB 128 MB 512 MB 128 MB
Recommended Minimum RAM 256 MB 256 MB 1 GB 256 MB
Maximum RAM 4 GB 32 GB for x86-based computers

64 GB for Itanium-based computers
64 GB for x86-based computers

512 GB for Itanium-based computers
2 GB
Multi-Processor Support Up to 4 Up to 8 Minimum 8 required

Maximum 64
Up to 2
Disk Space for Setup 1.5 GB 1.5 GB for x86-based computers

2.0 GB for Itanium-based computers
1.5 GB for x86-based computers

2.0 GB for Itanium-based computers
1.5 GB

You can view the current Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) on Microsoft's Web site or you can FTP the text files for the desired Operating System. (On the site there is a section that reads "Windows Server 2003 (coming soon)")

A number of Technical Overviews can be found on the Microsoft Web site as well.

If you elect to upgrade your current server operating system, be aware that the Setup program will automatically install Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition into the same folder as the currently installed operating system, regardless of its naming convention.

You can perform direct upgrades to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition from the following versions of Windows:

  • Windows NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 5 or later
  • Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, with Service Pack 5 or later
  • Windows 2000 Server

Remote Storage is not included on Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. If you are using Windows 2000 Server with Remote Storage, you will not be able to upgrade the system to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. You have the option to either: 1) upgrade to Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (as Remote Storage is included), remove Remote Storage through Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, and then upgrade to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, or 2) install Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition as a new installation (which will effectively negate any remote storage attached to the system).

You cannot upgrade from Windows 9x, ME, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows XP Home or Professional directly to any of the Windows Server 2003 versions. (Clean installations from within those existing operating systems to other partitions or over the existing partition is allowed, however.) Also, if you have Windows NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Edition running Service Pack 5 or later, you can upgrade directly to Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition but not to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. A clean installation to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition is available. (See items below.) If you have a version of Windows NT earlier than 4.0, such as Windows NT Server 3.x, you cannot upgrade directly to any product in the Windows Server 2003 family. You can first upgrade to Windows NT 4.0 and apply Service Pack 5 and then perform a direct upgrade if desired. (This is not recommended, however.)

As mentioned above, you cannot "downgrade" (so to speak) from Windows 2000 Advanced Server to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition as part of an upgrade installation to Windows Server 2003.

You also have the option of performing a New Installation in this situation.

You can to confirm that your hardware is compatible with Windows Server 2003 by running a pre-installation compatibility check from the Setup CD.

Typing \i386\winnt32 /checkupgradeonly either from a command line or the RUN box will launch the Setup Wizard to perform only a system check of the current hardware from within an existing operating system. You can also perform this from the context menu that appears after AUTORUN starts.

The results screen will appear with any pertinent information after a few moments.

Regardless of whether you run the pre-installation compatibility check step ahead of time, the Setup Wizard checks hardware and software compatibility at the beginning of a "standard" installation or upgrade and reports any known incompatibilities

.

As you can see, an error is generated, as I am not allowed to upgrade from Windows 2000 Professional to Windows Server 2003. (Again, it reads "Windows .NET Server 2003" and not "Windows Server 2003" as it should, once it is released to market.)

This does not prevent you from installing Windows Server 2003 as a clean installation in this particular instance, however.

Well, that wraps up Part 1 of Introduction to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2 (3718). I hope you found it informative.

If you have any questions, comments or even constructive criticism, please feel free to drop me a note. I want to write solid technical articles that appeal to a large range of readers and skill levels and I can only be sure of that through your feedback.

Until the next time, remember:

"Security isn't about risk avoidance, it's about risk management."