Windows Server 8, Microsoft's Attempt at a New Server Paradigm
Server operating system releases rarely garner much excitement outside of IT circles. They are the necessary evil - coordinating all of our messaging, file handling and online services vital for a networked world. Even if you don't spend your days in a cube for a living, and prefer to store your files in the 'cloud', there is a server somewhere making it all possible.
As such, they tend to not be very sexy. In the case of Microsoft, most server operating systems appear on the surface at least to be a stripped-down purpose-built version of their desktop counterparts. At their core they are, with some important differences.. The primary differentiation is that they've been optimized for better storage, memory handling and security.
Which leads us to the latest offering from Microsoft, Windows Server 8.
Windows Server 8 Beta was released to the public on March 1st, just one day after the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Hardware requirements are as follows:
Processor - Minimum: 1.4 GHz 64bit processor
Memory - Minimum: 512 MB RAM
Available Disk Space - Minimum: 32 GB
Optical Drive DVD-ROM drive
Display and Peripherals - Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor
Microsoft Mouse or other compatible pointing device
Upgrade paths from Server 2008 R2 are supported with other versions of Server 2008 allowed for the Beta release. Microsoft makes available a 64Bit ISO and a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) file as the installation media options. The VHD option assumes at least Server 2003 and Microsoft Virtual server 2005 (Hyper-V). VMWARE test installations would likely be better served by mounting the ISO as the install medium for a new VM.
As with all Beta installs, Server 8 should only be deployed in a test environment, as there is no installation roll-back functionality.
There are two installation options: Server Core which offers little more than a powershell window and a GUI version adding a system manager applet similar (if not a bit gaudy) to the Server 2008 system manager. In my use the Server Manager is functional but counterintuitive, due to the haphazard organization of the applets. As an aside it's not very attractive either, looking much like one of those bad Powerpoint slides we've all had to suffer in a sales meeting.Continued on the next page