Ars Technica has a really excellent summary of the major new features in Windows Server 2008 R2. Some of the new features that jumped out at me are:
- Full Aero Glass with RDP. Great for virtual desktops.
- Remote server management tool now is network enabled so you can manage remote servers.
- Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) is available for Windows 7 to fully manage your servers without RDP.
- Includes PowerShell 2.0.
- .Net Framework added to server core.
- Offline Domain Join for clients/servers.
- Active Directory recycle bin for ‘oopsies’
- Active Directory Administration center for simplifying helpdesk access to AD
- GPO Preferences allow you to customize a lot of settings such as scheduling power saver modes, mapping printers, or controlling a user’s environment. Goodbye logon scripts.
- You can have multiple firewall policies active at once, which are all network location aware.
Check out the whole article for a lot more detail on each of these features. As the article mentions, Server 2008 R2 is not a traditional R2 release with minor tweaks. R2 is a major update to the server OS from the kernel on up.
You can download a huge Server 2008 R2 feature guide here.