Accessing a Windows server 2003 R2 from a brand-new Mac

I have a client who has a Windows network in therer small home office.
- One Windows server 2003 R2
- three Dell PCs running Windows 7 professional

One of the users works for a company that use iPhones iPads and Macs
- This person will have a brand-new Mac. I really don't know what version of the operating system it runs for I am not a true Mac User. But more importantly, I need to know what I need to allow this person to access files on the Windows server from their home network.  I know older Macs can connect to a Windows 2003 server by installing the Macintosh protocol that comes with the Windows server. What I don't know is if the newer Macs can still talk to this Macintosh protocol that comes with the Windows server 2003.

I know there are third-party products such as "extreme IP" that many printing companies use to access files on a Windows server 2008 or 2003 from all versions of Macs.

I need to know if I need to upgrade this Windows server to a newer version such as Windows server 2008 R2 (which the client already owns the software and license) or if I can continue to use a Windows server 2003 R2.

I'm not concerned about the iPads communicating with Windows server 2003. I'm only concerned that the user's new Mac can connect to the Windows server.

Any help with this will be appreciated
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAsked:
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Short answer is YES, the new iMac will be able to access files on the 2003 server .. although you will have to use the cifs:// protocol to connect as current OSX prefers the smb2 protocol which doesn't work so well on Win 2003.

OSX user should be able to read/write to the windows 2003 server without major issue.

There's no need to install the AppleTalk (AFP) protocol support on the 2003 server if you don't want as OSX can read/write using SMB which is part of OSX.

To access a remote Win 2003 server from their home network you'll need to have a VPN I assume ..
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
I am familiar with the cifs:// protocol
isn't this the same protocol you have to use connecting to a Windows server 2008 R2 server?
I wasn't sure whether to use SMB and the AppleTalk protocol

I'm not worried about remote access
AppleTalk is deprecated.  OSX is going SMB, even if they messed up their implementation in 10.9 and cause lots of headaches for many people, that still hasn't been fully fixed.
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Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
Just a little bit confused. On the brand-new Macs, will they find the Windows server 2003 on the network as long as I have credentials to the server? Or do I need to use cifs:// protocol to connect?

What is the best option to connect?
I have used a product called ExtremeZ IP to connect Windows 7 and XP workstations 28 2003 server and a 2000 a server. But that was for a printer who had to move very large files back and forth. All I want to do is access a few small files occasionally.
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
above I meant to say "Will I need to use the SMB:// or the cifs:// command?"
It appears the cifs:// is the newer command that replaces the smb://
Prior to Mavericks, Apple was using SMB1 only, so it didn't matter if you used cifs:// or smb://.  SMB2 is somewhat broken on Mavericks when you actually try to use it to connect to Windows systems.  Cifs forces SMB1.  You do need to have credentials on the Windows server unless you enable Everyone to access the share.

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Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all your help
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