Microsoft recently released the new Windows 8 Preview edition to familiarize developers with the upcoming Windows operating system. As we all known, Microsoft often releases its Server shortly after a client Operating system release. Therefore, Microsoft just released Windows Server Developer Preview edition (also known as Windows Server 8). This new Microsoft server has come with Windows 8 style user interface changes and a number of enhancements which have made it more suitable for cloud computing. For example, Windows Server 8 has Windows Azure integration, Scenario based installation of remote desktop services and a revitalized Dashboard and Server Manager . In this post I will provide you with a complete overview of the new Windows Server 8 features.
Windows Server 8 System Requirements
Before installing Windows Server 8, it is worth checking out the below system requirements. Microsoft is concentrating on providing a lightweight operating system, the minimum system requirements for Windows Server 8 Developers Preview (as mentioned by Microsoft) are as follows:
Processor: 2.0 GHz or faster (x64) Hardware Assisted Virtualization Required
Disk Space: At least 10.0 GB of free disk space
RAM: 2.5 GB of available physical RAM
Windows Server 8 Developer Preview is currently available only for developers who have subscribed to MSDN and can access and download the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview edition. You can sign in and download the Windows Server ISO from MSDN here. The installation process is quite similar to Windows 8 and you can also install Windows Server 8 on VirtualBox using steps shown for Windows 8 in my post here.
New Feature Of Windows Server 8
One of the major changes in Windows Server 8 includes the new Metro UI. While there has been a lot of buzz about the new Metro user interface, I personally found it quite annoying as it has a horrible font which hinders visibility of important features and is quite dysfunctional for now.
Metro User Interface (Metro UI)
The new interface comes with the following features.
Metro Based Start Menu
Main options such as My Computer, Desktop, Task Manager, Server manager, etc are displayed as tiles. You can click on Desktop to view the normal desktop, however, the Windows 7 style start menu requires a registry tweak. You can alternatively, try this application to get back the old start menu: Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle
Windows Server 8 Start Search
The Windows 8 Start Search also appears from right hand side of the screen and contains some categories like, Apps, Settings, and Files, along with Internet Explorer 10. You might find this new search bar quite inconvenient. I had a few issues finding a simple DCPromo command which was listed under Apps.
New File Copy/Move Dialog Box
Windows Server 8 provides a compact file copy/move dialog.
To view copy and move data speed, dynamic graph, Estimated time, etc click on More details button.
Azure Integration For Third Party Development And Cloud Computing
Windows Server 8 is focused on providing network administrators the opportunity to build private clouds based networks with maximum security. Windows Server 8 has been developed to fulfill requirements of personal cloud based computing in a dynamic, cost-effective and error free server manner. A primary example of this is the the integration of Windows Azure with Windows Server 8. Windows Azure gives durable storage option using the cloud an uses Blobs, Tables, and Queues as part of the Windows Azure Storage account.
NEW Dashboard and Remote Server Management Features
Windows Server 8 has delivered an enhanced version of the Dashboard which provides more convenient sections for sorting server configurations. You can now use the Server Manager to:
- Remotely add and manage servers.
- Create“Server Groups” for sorting remotely added servers.
- Get current stats for your servers and roles.
- Perform tasks on multiple servers at the same time.
- Deploy Roles and Features remotely.
The Dashboard tab displays All local and remote servers and allows managing events, services, performance alerts and BPA results (for receiving server issue logs, including error details). The local servers connected to Windows Server 8 can be viewed from Local Servers tab, whereas, the All Servers tab shows an overview of all associated Servers.
Performance Stats For Associated Servers
Windows Server 8 enables performing tasks on multiple servers simultaneously and provides the current status of your servers and roles from the Dashboard.
Install roles to Virtual servers hosted on Hyper-V
Hyper-V hosted virtual servers can be assigned roles using Windows Server 8. It also provides an option to start a scenario based installation of remote desktop services.
Note: When configuring replication that uses certificate-based authentication on servers which are connected to a Domain, identify servers only using their fully qualified domain names (FQDN) and not short name for the primary server (to avoid replication fail). This is because although replication will be successfully enabled, but the pre-requisite check prior to a planned failover will not be successful.
Please Note: The current Windows Server 8 Developers preview Build should not be used for deployment. This is merely a raw developer’s build and therefore many features are not fully functional. It is also possible that you may not be able to perform many usual server management and network connectivity tasks due to lack of driver compatibility and issues associated to under development or bugs in pre-beta versions.