Microsoft has released Windows Server 2008 R2 to volume licensees who subscribe to Microsoft's Software Assurance program.

The new release, which came last Wednesday -- a week earlier than scheduled -- follows up on Windows Server 2008 and includes a number of integration points with Microsoft's latest client operating system, Windows 7.

The most anticipated new feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 is likely Live Migration, the ability to move virtualized server workloads around a data center on the fly. This feature's absence from Windows Server 2008 was one of the main disadvantages Microsoft had to vmWare. Users can now also 'hot add' or remove virtual storage and boot the system from VHD.

Two other major new features in Windows Serverr 2008 R2 require Windows 7. DirectAccess combines IPv6 and IPSEC to eliminate the need for a VPN. That means users will no longer have to connect to a VPN to access corporate resources, since DirectAccess connections are made automatically. As soon as Windows 7 boots up on a corporate PC set up to work with DirectAccess, it authenticates with a DirectAccess server.

Full story: InformationWeek