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Windows Server 2003 is the latest version of Microsoft's Windows-based operating system designed for servers in many different roles: Application, Web Services, Services of Directory, File & Print Services and Services of Infrastructure.

New Features in Windows Server 2003

Although Windows Server 2003 is built on the foundation provided by Windows 2000, a number of new features and tools have been included in Microsoft's newest operating system release. In some cases, the changes are simply enhancements to existing tools, such as Active Directory Users and Computers. In others, completely new tools have been provided to simplify and enhance the administration of familiar elements, such as Group Policy.

One area in which Windows Server 2003 has changed significantly compared to Windows 2000 is with respect to its default security settings. For example, Windows Server 2003 does not install Internet Information Services (IIS) by default, thus ensuring that it is present only on systems where it is explicitly required. Further, once IIS 6.0 is installed, its default security settings are much more restrictive than in past versions.

Recognizing the challenges faced by organizations trying to stay current with security patches and critical updates in large environments, Microsoft designed Windows Server 2003 to support Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS). Software Update Services is a free tool that allows patches and updates to first be tested and then automatically deployed and installed throughout a Windows network. This tool helps to ensure that all necessary systems are patched and are therefore less prone to security threats, while at the same time making the management of critical updates much easier for administrators.

Windows Server 2003 also provides new features aimed at ensuring that systems and data can be recovered quickly in the event of system failures or even the accidental deletion of data by users. Automated System Recovery (ASR) provides a facility to get Windows Server 2003 systems back up and running quickly after a failure occurs. The Shadow Copies of Shared Folders feature makes point-in-time backups of user data to ensure that previous versions are easily accessible in cases where a user has accidentally deleted a file.

Finally, Windows Server 2003 introduces a number of new features to Active Directory. Some of the major changes to Active Directory include new tools, new functions within existing tools, and new features aimed at making it easier to change names, restructure domains, and manage multiforest environments.

Windows Server 2003 Hardware Requirements

As with previous versions of Windows, Microsoft publishes both absolute minimum and recommended minimum hardware specifications for the various Windows Server 2003 editions. Although a server configured to meet the recommended minimum requirements will usually perform adequately, it should be noted that these numbers do represent minimums and, depending on the software and services installed, actual requirements might be much higher.

Standard Editions Enterprise Edition Datacenter Edition Web Edition
Minumim CPU Speed


133 MHz


133 MHz (x86)

733 mHz (Itanium)

400 MHz (x86)

733 MHz (Itanium)

133 Mhz


Recommended Minimum CPU Speed 550 MHz 733 MHz 733 MHz 550 MHz
Minimum RAM 128 MB 128 MB 512 MB 128 MB
Recommended RAM 256 MB 256 MB 1 GB 256 MB

Next Release

With the release of Windows Vista for personal computers in Feb. 2007, Microsoft seems poised to update their server-side OS as well. While no date has been set, speculators believe sometime in 2007 or 2008 Windows Server will also be updated, taking advantage of the Windows Vista codebase.

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