Updated: September 15, 2010

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2


NetWare 6.x reached its general support end date in March 2010, which leaves current NetWare customers with a difficult decision:

  • Stay with NetWare 6

  • Make a move to Linux

  • Migrate to the Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating system

This topic discusses the benefits of migrating from Novell NetWare to Windows Server 2008 R2 with a particular focus on file and print services, a key NetWare workload.

Migrating to Windows Server 2008 R2 provides significant benefits when compared to existing NetWare services, including new virtualization tools, Web capabilities, management enhancements, and Windows 7 operating system integration to help save time, reduce costs, and provide a platform for a dynamic and efficiently managed data center.

Microsoft provides a migration path for organizations of all sizes to move from NetWare to Windows Server 2008 R2, including a migration Web site and tools like Microsoft Services for NetWare. In addition, Microsoft provides a well-known, well-understood operating system upgrade path for the future, excellent product support, and outstanding customer commitment.

NetWare 6.x End of Life: Where to Next?

While Novell has enjoyed a loyal base of NetWare customers, the decision to end general support for NetWare 6.x has been viewed by many of their customers as the end of Novell in their IT environments.


See customer comments on Novell’s Web page “Move IT: Now is the Time to Upgrade” at the Novell web site (

Besides leaving them with limited to no technical support for existing NetWare 6.x installations after March 2010, Novell’s recommended upgrade path forces their customers to learn SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)—a new network operating system—and to manage a separate set of services on top of that operating system in the form of Novell Open Enterprise Server (OES).


General Support for NetWare 6.5 ended on March 7, 2010. Customers have the option of paying for extended support until 2012, but support options are very limited and only available to customers who are planning to upgrade to Novell OES 2. For more information, see the Novell web site (

Current Novell customers now face a difficult decision regarding the future of their NetWare installations:

  • Stay with NetWare. For some customers, simply staying with NetWare may be a short-term solution. However, the customers will immediately be forced to deal with very limited and expensive technical support from Novell. Also, no further enhancements or fixes will be available for NetWare. Ultimately, these customers will find themselves limited in their ability to meet business needs since their NetWare installation will not support new software and services that their organizations may wish to deploy.

  • Make the move to Linux. NetWare customers can choose to follow Novell’s recommended migration path to Novell Open Enterprise Server on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. However, many NetWare customers do not have the staff and knowledge to run Linux and migrate their mission-critical servers. Those customers that do move to Linux face the difficult task of managing the operating system and its services as two different packages while climbing a steep learning curve as they switch from familiar NetWare to unfamiliar Linux management tools.

  • Migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2. Faced with the reality of their situation, NetWare customers are realizing that the best option for meeting current and future business needs is to migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2. By choosing this clear pathway, customers can quickly enjoy the benefits of a proven operating system designed to power the next generation of networks, applications, and Web services, with excellent customer support.

Reasons to Migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2

The following topics discuss reasons to migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Provides Key Services Found in NetWare

  • Windows Server R2 Handles Traditional NetWare File and Print Workloads

  • Tested Migration Path from NetWare to Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Is Easy to Deploy and Manage

  • Microsoft Provides Industry Leadership

Windows Server 2008 R2 Provides Key Services Found in NetWare

Windows Server 2008 R2 offers robust native services and a wide breadth of applications and support services, including industry-leading levels of certified technical personnel who are certified through the Microsoft® Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft® Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), and related credential programs. The following table compares key technologies in Windows Server 2008 R2 with technologies in NetWare 6.5.

Key technologies delivered by Windows Server 2008 R2 versus NetWare 6.5:

Windows Server 2008 R2 NetWare 6.5 Windows Server Advantage

File Services

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides Server Message Block (SMB) and Network File System (NFS), Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX (SFU), the NTFS journaling file system, and FAT32.

SMB packet signing, which is turned on by default in Windows Server 2008 R2 but is not supported in NetWare, places a digital signature into each SMB packet, which is verified by the receiving party. Secure channel signing establishes a more secure communication channel between a Windows Server 2008 R2 computer and its domain controller at startup. These measures enhance the security of the Windows implementation of SMB.

Snapshot backup services are provided by Volume Copy Shadow Service, with system restore via Shadow Copy of Shared Folders. Encrypting File Service, mobile file support, and file-service indexing are all provided natively by the operating system.

NetWare provides SMB, NFS, and Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) file services, the Novell Storage Services (NSS) journaling file system, and Traditional File Services. Snapshot services are provided by NSS snapshots, with system restore via NSS versioning and with support for a browser-based interface only.

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides added functionality in several key areas. SMB packet signing improves security* of the SMB implementation. Volume Shadow Copy Service offers access to versioned files through Windows® Explorer, as opposed to the NetWare browser interface. Windows provides many native services such as encrypted file services, mobile file support, and file-service indexing that require add-ons to NetWare or are not available at all.

High-End File Services

The Windows Server 2008 R2 implementation of Distributed File System (DFS) provides replication and multiple DFS roots.

The NetWare implementation of DFS requires an additional product Novell ZENWorks for Servers (ZfS) for replication.

New storage area network (SAN) hardware from HP and IBM, which is fully supported by Windows Server 2008 R2, does not provide driver support for NetWare 6.x.

Print Services

The Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system can render print jobs either on the client or on the server. Active Directory® allows users to search for and automatically discover printers based on their capabilities, locations, and other characteristics.

NetWare does not support server-side print rendering. Users must self-navigate printer maps that are maintained manually.

The NetWare dependence on client-side print-job rendering requires drivers to be installed on every client computer, and the requirement to manually maintain server maps further increases administration overhead.

Application Services

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides the integrated Microsoft® .NET Framework, with application-hosting support that benefits from the full ecosystem of Win32® applications. WebDAV support is built in to the operating system and is extended through Internet Information Services (IIS). Streaming Media Server is offered natively through the operating system.

NetWare application server functionality is provided by J2EE eXtend App Server and J2EE Apache/Tomcat. WebDAV support is provided only through the Apache Web Server, and streaming media services are not available.

In addition to the .NET Framework, Windows Server 2008 R2 provides application-hosting support for the full ecosystem of Win32 applications. NetWare application hosting is dependent upon NetWare Loadable Module (NLM) applications and J2EE.


Windows offers full remote-management capability based on Terminal Services. A number of deployment and management wizards streamline common administration tasks throughout the system life cycle.

NetWare offers limited remote management through a Web-based client. Pattern deployments are usable only during installation.

The robust remote-management capabilities of the Windows Server 2008 R2 enable administrators to minimize the need to be physically on site with servers. Windows wizards automate repetitive tasks, increasing efficiency and accuracy.


Windows Server 2008 R2 offers lightweight collaboration services through Windows® SharePoint® Services, which can be used as a development platform for creating collaboration and information-sharing applications. Indexing and searching are provided natively by the operating system.

NetWare provides Virtual Office. Indexing and searching are dependent upon the add-on solution, Novell Web search.

SharePoint Services provide a foundation that can be extended even further using Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server, a more secure, scalable, enterprise portal server.

Directory Services

Active Directory provides centralized search, accounting, and application support for organizations ranging from very small to very large. Active Directory is extensible, scalable, and offers robust centralized management through Group Policies.

In addition, organizations can take advantage of Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (LDS) to provide customized directory services for applications in the organization. These directory services can be integrated with each other and with third-party directory services. By centralizing identity information and automating the population of directory service entries, Microsoft® Forefront™ Identity Manager makes it possible for organizations to reduce the cost, risk, and complexity associated with building, deploying, and maintaining an end-to-end identity and access management solution.

Novell’s eDirectory is designed to reflect a mix of a company’s organizational chart and geographical boundaries. Security and resource access is determined by the tree context of an item. As a result, the tree becomes increasingly complex. Aliases and groups must be added to connect users and resources.

For an additional cost, ZENWorks can enforce policies based upon an object’s context in the tree. For ZENWorks to function, the Novell client software must be installed on the workstation.

DirXML, now called NSure Identity Manager 2, offers synchronization services between directories. The expectation is that through NSure developers will connect eDirectory to external Service- Oriented Architectures (SOAs) or to Novell Portal Services and Novell ExteNd Enterprise Suite tools.

Microsoft directory services offer strong support, scalability, and extensibility for mission-critical operations, such as accounting, and Microsoft directory services offer application support. In addition, products such as Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services and Microsoft® Forefront™ Identity Manager offer solutions that centralize identity management and make directory data more available, reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Connectivity Tools

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides native wireless local area network (LAN) support and a virtual private network (VPN) server. Together with Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 offers DirectAccess.

Wireless LANs are not supported by NetWare, and VPN servers must rely on external hardware and software.

The full integration of wireless LAN and VPN tools into Windows Server 2008 R2 reliably provides users with the connectivity services they expect and require, while simplifying administration.

Windows Server R2 Handles Traditional NetWare File and Print Workloads

Microsoft continues to innovate in the area of file services, making file sharing easier, more intuitive, and more efficient.

  • Encrypted File System Support: Unlike NetWare, Windows Server 2008 R2 provides native support for encrypted data storage on disk.

  • Volume and File Shadowing: While both NSS and NTFS make it possible to shadow files or volumes for backup purposes, Windows provides full access to versioned files through the familiar Windows Explorer interface, whereas NetWare users must access the file version through a Web interface.

  • File Indexing: Windows Server 2008 R2 provides built-in indexing services through the Windows interface, but NetWare uses a separate engine repurposed from GroupWise for NetWare that uses a browser interface and does not fully support some of the latest Microsoft® Office system file formats.

  • SAN Support: New SAN hardware from HP and IBM, which is fully supported by Windows Server 2008 R2, does not provide driver support for NetWare 6.x.

  • Mobile File Support: While both Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 provide native, integrated offline file and folder support, NetWare requires server-side and client-side add-ons that must be installed and managed separately.

Detailed information about file services in Windows Server 2008 R2 is available at the Windows Server TechCenter Library at

Windows also provides ongoing improvement in the area of print services.

  • Automatic Driver Download: Both NetWare and Windows Server 2008 R2 provide automated setup of print services.

  • Server-Side Rendering: Windows supports rendering print jobs on either the client or the server, but NetWare only supports client-side rendering, requiring local drivers for all printers.

  • Locating Printers: While Windows users can use Active Directory to search for printers based on print criteria and locality, with iPrint NetWare administrators must maintain printer maps manually.

Detailed information about print services in Windows Server 2008 R2 is available at the Windows Server TechCenter Library at

Tested Migration Path from NetWare to Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft conducted numerous tests to develop a clear migration path to Windows Server 2008 R2 for NetWare customers. This path is clearly described in the NetWare to Windows Server 2008 R2 Migration Planning Guide at In addition, Microsoft has provided:

With all of these resources, NetWare customers can rest easy knowing that they will have the information and assistance they need to migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Is Easy to Deploy and Manage

In addition to a clear migration path for NetWare customers, Microsoft has built Windows Server 2008 R2 to be easy to deploy and easy to manage. Best practices and guidance for deploying Windows Server 2008 R2 are available in the Microsoft® Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit for Windows Server 2008 R2 at The MAP Toolkit quickly gathers essential infrastructure knowledge needed to plan a successful migration to Windows Server 2008 R2. Without using any software agents, the MAP Toolkit takes inventory of the current server environment, determines hardware and device compatibility and readiness, and generates reports on recommended upgrades for migration.

Microsoft® Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 is a Solution Accelerator for operating system and application deployment. MDT 2010 supports deployment of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and MDT 2010 is the recommended process and toolset for automating desktop and server deployment. MDT provides several benefits, including the following:

  • Unified tools and processes required for desktop and server deployment in a common deployment console and collection of guidance

  • Reduced deployment time and standardized desktop and server images, along with improved security and ongoing configuration management

Migrating to Windows Server 2008 R2 also makes life easier by providing robust centralized management tools, a single client, and minimal day-to-day support and administration issues. Whereas Novell customers have had to manage the NetWare client and desktop operating systems, standardizing on Windows as a single desktop client simplifies administration and provides support for the largest range of applications and solutions available.

Microsoft Provides Industry Leadership

Microsoft provides a robust support framework for Windows Server 2008 R2. The worldwide distribution of Microsoft expertise guarantees that customer infrastructures based on Windows Server 2008 R2 can be readily supported by the large base of skilled technical resources. The vast installed base of the operating system and the industry-leading research and development investment by Microsoft will drive the development of future generations of Windows technologies. The following are a few key advantages that Windows Server 2008 R2 users gain from Microsoft industry leadership:

  • Richest Application Support: Windows has some of the greatest application support of any family of operating systems, including NetWare, Linux, and all competing platforms. Organizations whose server platforms are based on Windows Server 2008 R2 benefit from the broadest choice for their business-critical applications.

  • Full-Featured File Services: Microsoft continues to deepen the enhancements to file services delivered by Windows. Conversely, Novell has dedicated significant effort in this area to porting their existing file services to Linux, which already offers a variety of file services.

  • Scalable and Flexible Print Services: In this critical area, Microsoft continues to provide improved technologies for fast and reliable print services that are extremely efficient for users and administrators alike.

  • Strong Partner Ecosystem: Microsoft technology partners are available throughout the world to assist with migrating NetWare customers to Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft maintains a partner database online ( that customers can use to find partners by geographic area, business focus, technologies supported, and type of service provided.

The research and development operations behind the Windows Server operating system continue to provide innovative development. The extremely strong support systems and partner ecosystem associated with the platform provide outstanding deployment and maintenance resources for Windows customers.

Top Windows Server 2008 R2 Benefit Areas

Windows Server 2008 R2 is an advanced server operating system that provides more cost-effective and reliable support for mission-critical workloads. It offers innovative features for virtualization, power savings, and manageability and helps make it easier for mobile workers to access company resources.

  • Virtualization. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes the much-anticipated update to the Microsoft virtualization technology Hyper-V™. The new Hyper-V was designed to augment both existing virtual machine management and to address specific IT challenges, especially around server migration. Hyper-V is a supporting technology for one of the prominent Windows Server 2008 R2 features, Live Migration. Hyper-V also has core performance enhancements, including the ability to take advantage of up to 64 logical processors, support for Second Level Translation (SLAT), the ability to add and remove storage, and the ability to boot from a virtual hard disk (VHD). Customers employing Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Hyper-V can also enjoy additional management and orchestration scenarios, including a new virtual machine–oriented Performance and Resource Optimization feature and updated support for managing failover clusters.

  • Power Options. Windows Server® 2008 introduced a “balanced” power policy, which monitors the utilization level of the processors on the server and dynamically adjusts the processor performance states to limit power to the needs of the workload. Windows Server 2008 R2 enhances this power-saving feature by adding Core Parking and expanding on power-oriented Group Policy settings. Active Directory Domain Services Group Policy in Windows Server 2008 gave administrators a certain amount of control over power options on client computers. These capabilities are enhanced in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 to provide even more precise control in more deployment scenarios for even greater potential savings.

  • Management. Windows Server 2008 R2 increases capabilities without increasing complexity and workload for administrators through:

    • Improved data center power consumption and management.

    • Improved remote administration, including a remotely installable Server Manager.

    • Improved identity management features via the updated and simplified Active Directory Domain Services and Active Directory Federation Services.

    Windows Server 2008 R2 also improves on the popular Windows PowerShell™ feature introduced in Windows Server 2008. Windows PowerShell 2.0 significantly enhances the earlier version with the inclusion of more than 240 new pre-built cmdlets as well as a new graphical user interface (GUI) that adds professional-level development features.

  • Web. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes many updates that make it the best Windows Server application platform yet, but one of the most important updates is the new Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.5 Web server. The updated Web server includes features that streamline management by extending IIS Manager, implementing the IIS PowerShell Provider, and taking advantage of Microsoft® .NET on Server Core. IIS 7.5 also integrates new support and troubleshooting features, including configuration logging and a dedicated Best Practice Analyzer. Also, several of the most popular optional extensions associated with Windows Server 2008, including URLScan 3.0 (now known as the Request Filter Module) have been integrated in the Windows Server 2008 R2 release.

  • Scalability and Reliability. Windows Server 2008 R2 has been specifically designed to support increased workloads with less resource utilization on server hardware. Windows Server 2008 R2 supports these increased workloads while enhancing reliability and security; it was designed to perform as well or better for the same hardware base as Windows Server 2008. In addition, Windows Server 2008 R2 is the first Windows Server operating system to move solely to a 64-bit architecture, and it expands CPU support for up to 256 logical processors.

  • Better Together with Windows 7. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes technology improvements designed with Windows 7 enterprise users in mind, augmenting the network experience, security, and manageability.

Detail about features is available from the Windows Server 2008 R2 Product Details Page (


Windows Server 2008 R2 makes it possible for IT professionals to increase the reliability and flexibility of their server infrastructures through new virtualization tools, Web capabilities, management enhancements, and Windows 7 integration to help save time, reduce costs, and provide operating system for a dynamic and efficiently managed data center. Current NetWare customers who choose to migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2 can have a sustainable, enterprise-class operating system that Microsoft will continue to develop, innovate, and provide expanded services for.

For additional information about migrating Novell environments to Windows Server 2008 R2 (and related technologies), see the following resources:

For the latest information about Windows Server 2008 R2, see the Windows Server 2008 R2 Web site at