windows-7-logo Windows-Server-2008-R2-logo There are quite a few new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that can only be used if both operating systems work together. Microsoft markets these features as better-together-features. They did something similar with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. However, this campaign just listed features that both operating systems have in common. Most of Vista’s new features don’t require Server 2008 and vice versa. This will be different with Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. It is hard to tell whether this is for technical reasons or if it is only about marketing. Perhaps it is a little of both.

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I wonder if this is the reason why Ballmer “recommended” skipping Vista recently. Maybe that was just a Freudian slip. It is also possible that Microsoft will change its attitude later when customers who just migrated to Vista start complaining that they can’t use the Server 2008 R2 features.

There is already some confusion about the better-together-features. For example, some sites reported that BitLocker To Go, the ability of Windows 7 to encrypt portable drives, requires Windows Server 2008 R2. Technically, this doesn’t make sense, and it would mean that this feature wouldn’t be available for the consumer editions. In my Windows 7 installation (build 6801) BitLocker To Go works without Server 2008 R2.

Anyway, here are the features that can only be used if Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 play together. Since I’ve already discussed these in my series about the new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, I will only list them here with a short note.

Direct Access: Automatically establishes a secure remote connection to the corporate network without requiring VPN

BranchCache: Caches content from remote file and Web servers on a server in a branch location

Read only Distributed File System (DFS): Supports read-only copies of files stored in DFS; this feature improves security in branch offices

Desktop and Application Feeds: Allows end users to launch remote applications on Windows Server 2008 R2 via RDP from a central location on a Windows 7 desktop

Agile VPN: Multiple network paths between points in the VPN tunnel; if one network path gets disconnected, Agile VPN automatically uses another network path.

(BitLocker keys in Active Directory: Allows you to store a backup of the BitLocker key in Active Directory. I suppose this works only if you raise the functional level of Active Directory to Windows Server 2008 R2.) (see comments)

Offline Folders enhancements: Offline files are copied to the Offline Files cache and then synchronized in the background with the server. This saves bandwidth and improves performance.

AppLocker: Restricts program execution on user desktops based on publisher signature

RDP 7: The version number of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) will probably be 7 in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The build 6801 still has RDP 6.1. RDP 6.1 is also available for Windows XP, but it seems as if RDP 7 will only run on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. There are many interesting new features in RDP 7.

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If you know another better-together-feature, please post a comment below. I will then update this article.

  1. Aaron 14 years ago

    BitLocker keys can already be stored in AD (2003 with schema update is supported), how does this differ in Windows 7?

  2. Aaron, thanks for the hint. I wasn’t aware of the fact that one store Bitlocker keys in Active Directory with Windows 2003. Perhaps one hasn’t to update the schema if the functional level is Windows Server 2008 R2. It is also possible that one requires Windows Server 2008 R2 for storing Windows 7 Bitlocker keys but not for Vista keys. But this is only a wild guess. I was referring to this paragraph in Microsoft’s Windows Sever 2008 R2 Reviewer’s Guide:

    BitLocker keys can also be archived in Active Directory, which provide an extra level of protection in the event that the physical key is lost or the TPM device fails. This integration between Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 allows you to protect sensitive information without worrying about users losing their physical key.

  3. anonymous 14 years ago

    Those “Offline Folders enhancements” are also there in Vista. See

  4. Bret Fisher 14 years ago

    BitLocker keys can be stored in AD even when using a Windows 2003 SP1 (or newer) domain controler if you extend the schema. Vista or newer on the client.

    I wonder if they meaning to say “bitlocker to go” keys will also be in AD?

  5. Bret Fisher 14 years ago

    Enterprise Search. (possible if microsoft search 4.0 is installed on vista or xp. win 2008 R2 and win7 are first to have it in RTM.)

    Using the search feature in Explorer on network files shares will communicate with server’s search index rather then manually “download and scan” files over the network.

  6. Bret Fisher 14 years ago

    Active Directory Administration Center – a new RSAT in win7/08R2 that uses web services for AD Administration. Requires at least one R2 domain controller (but not a upgraded forest) and one of the two OS’s to use the new MMC. Not sure if it will be supported in the Vista RSAT (right now RSAT is OS specific).

  7. ROBBY 12 years ago

    i am building a new system for the purpose of windows 7 & windows server 2008R2. my question is this: should i be aattempting to set up a dual boot system with win7 on one partition and Winserver 2008r2 on the other? or should i install Winserver 2008R2 and then install Win7 or vice-versa? i thought because they were 2 OS’s they should be on separate partitions and i should boot to one or the other. how do i combine Win7 & Winserver 2008R2 on one partition? which option is best if both are possible? thanks…youngtech

  8. I recommend to install them on different partitions. You will run into problems with the user folder, program folder etc.

  9. karthika 12 years ago

    In windows Server 2008R2 version, we are attempting to read the directory,

    c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Microsoft\Crypto\RSA\..

    this is the file will be taken automatically by the RSACryptoServiceProvider class in C#.

    When i use this on WindowsServer2008R2, it is getting the error as “The file path specified is not found”

  10. karthika 12 years ago

    Thanks in Advance !!

  11. ayyappa 11 years ago

    it’s very usable thank you very much…………..

  12. ayyappa 11 years ago

    can you please tell me how to install with windows 7 and windows server 2008 in my samsung laptop model:NP-RV509-A0FIN if it is possible or not please send a mail to my mail id or write comment here please


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