1.2 What Is Windows Server 2003?

Windows Server 2003 in its several editions is the latest generation of the Microsoft family of server operating systems, incorporating the advances achieved by the earlier Windows NT and Windows 2000 Server families of products. These operating systems have been tested and proven since 1993 to be a solid platform for applications and server-based functions.

Windows XP is also derived from the same code base as Windows Server 2003. This common base ensures that the core functionality of the two operating systems remains identical. The numerous benefits this approach provides include the following:

Common device drivers

If you've ever gone searching for a device driver for a specific operating system, you can immediately recognize this benefit. Hardware vendors need to write only one device driver that will work on both operating systems.

Software compatibility

If software works on Windows XP, it'll work on Windows Server 2003.

More stable core

All the work done to make Windows XP a solid and stable operating system benefits Windows Server 2003, as it's simply an extension of that work. Windows Server 2003 benefits from having had an additional year of bulletproofing done on top of the enormous work already done on Windows XP. In addition, many flaws discovered in Windows XP were fixed in Windows Server 2003 before it even shipped.

Unified user interface and experience

Although some of the "pretty" features have been removed from Windows Server 2003 to gain performance benefits, an administrator who is comfortable working with Windows XP will immediately feel at home with the server version. Almost all user interface objects are in the same place, which decreases the time needed to master the differences.

Windows Server 2003 is the operating system platform that is used by Microsoft and other companies to run server-based software such as Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server. This requires Windows Server 2003 to be scalable while achieving the stability needed to provide critical business services and the necessary uptime. Windows Server 2003 delivers in all these areas. This is in contrast to other server operating systems that usually focus on only one of the following areas: raw horsepower, usability, security, and the like. Windows provides strength in all these areas without significantly detracting from any others. In this book, I'll focus on security and show how the built-in features of Windows can help provide very secure solutions without sacrificing the other benefits of the operating system.