As you probably know, Windows Server 2003 R2 was released to manufacturing (RTM) back in early December 2005. When we RTM a product, there is usually a delay of about 2 months before it is widely available. Availability can vary by channel, but generally it becomes available in most places around the same time. Today we reached the General Availability milestone and you should now be able to get R2 (in English) from wherever you get your software. I just checked a few online software vendors and have already seen the R2 listings, so you can order it today. If you are a Software Assurance or Enterprise Agreement customer, you can expect to see R2 on this month’s CD shipment. Availability for languages other than English should be coming in the next few weeks, depending on the language, as we do not release all the different localized versions at the same time.
Also available today is some new *free* R2 e-learning. We now have virtual hands-on labs covering the three new major areas of R2: branch office, identity management, and storage management. In total, there are 3 labs covering 19 different lessons. The labs are available here and complement the R2 Clinic that was released to the web last week. The virtual labs are a great way to do a quick test-drive of the new features without going through the effort of setting up a test server. Of course, if you want to go deeper on the technology, you can always download the eval from the Windows Server site.
Based on the number of inquiries that I have been getting on how to get R2, this should make many people happy as I know there are some of you who want to urgently start implementing some of the new DFS features in R2.