Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003

Windows 2000 was the follow-up to the popular Windows NT 4 network operating system, and it quickly established itself as a reliable and robust operating system. Windows 2000 built on the success of its predecessor and offered many improvements and advancements. In 2003, Microsoft released the latest version of its Windows server family of productsthe aptly named Windows Server 2003. Microsoft still currently supports Windows 2000, and many organizations still have Windows 2000 Server systems deployed.

Three different versions of Windows 2000 are available for server platforms: Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server. Windows 2000 is also available as a workstation operating system: Windows 2000 Professional. Windows 2000 Professional has the majority of features, capabilities, and strengths of Windows 2000 Server products but omits the server-type network services and capabilities.

Like Windows 2000, there are also a number of versions of Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition. Additionally, Windows Server 2003 Web Edition is designed as a platform for Web-based applications and services. Microsoft fully expects that you will mix and match editions of Windows Server 2003 on a network, so interoperability between the editions is seamless.

Windows Application Support

Of all the network operating systems discussed in this tutorial, Windows server platforms have the best overall level of support by third-party applications. In addition to having superb third-party application support, Windows server operating systems come with a complete set of tools and services that satisfy almost every need a company could have from a network operating system. These applications include DNS and DHCP server services, performance-monitoring tools, Web server applications, remote access capabilities, and network monitoring tools.

Windows Security

Windows server operating systems provide a full range of security features that make for very secure network operating systems. Windows Server 2003 is considered more secure than Windows 2000, as it employs a "secure by default" strategy through which unnecessary applications, services, and security configurations are disabled by default. Administrators can then enable applications and services on an as needed basis.

Authentication security is provided on Windows servers through Kerberos version 5. File system security and encryption are provided through NTFS permissions and EFS. Network communication can be protected by a range of security and authentication protocols, though IPSec is most commonly used on Windows server networks to provide both encryption and authentication for network data.