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
Hardware Requirements for Windows Server 2003 Standard EditionThe minimum system requirements for Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition are as follow:
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
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:
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.
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."