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Windows Server 2012 R2 Update Released to MSDN, TechNet

An update to Windows Server 2012 R2 became available on Wednesday for MSDN and TechNet subscribers.

Non-subscribers will receive the update on April 8 via the Windows Update service, Microsoft said in its announcement. For Microsoft's volume licensing customers, a new operating system image containing the update will be available on April 14 through the Volume Licensing Service Center.

Microsoft's announcement dispensed with the usual testing talk, which seems like a new approach for such releases. The rationale appears to be the positive customer results received by Microsoft from those organizations that have already deployed the update.

"We encourage you to apply this update to your Windows Server 2012 R2 systems as soon as possible," the announcement states.

Moreover, Microsoft considers this update to be the next baseline installation prior to its security update releases coming in May.

Unlike the Windows 8.1 client update, which also was announced on Wednesday, the Windows Server 2012 R2 Update doesn't really have any new features, just cumulative updates and bug fixes. It does contain three enhancements, though, that may or may not be important for organizations.

First, the server update adds Microsoft's Enterprise Mode for running Internet Explorer from the server, for those organizations that carry out that practice. Enterprise Mode is an Internet Explorer 11 feature that lets organization run Internet Explorer 8-based Web pages and IE 8-based Web apps via the IE 11 browser. Microsoft claims that adding Enterprise Mode has helped some of its customers with compatibility issues when running line-of-business apps.

Second, the server update allows organizations to use single sign-on log-ins with Office 365 e-mail addresses. It also replicates the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) end user experience on the server as seen with Windows 8.1 Update clients.

Lastly, the server update adds the Power and Search buttons in the server's "Windows Store Apps" (or "Metro" or "Modern") user interface, much like the Windows 8.1 Update does.

Microsoft suggests running Msinfo32.exe to confirm the update's installation. It should report a hardware abstraction layer of "6.3.9600.17031," if successful, according to a TechNet library article.

Despite Microsoft's insistence on installing the update right away, Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn suggested in a blog post that organizations should test the release first and then "wait a week or two" before going live. The update is available through MSDN in both slipstreamed and non-slipstreamed versions, according to Finn.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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