Yesterday, Microsoft managed to turn the heads of many computer enthusiasts by showing off Windows 8 in its entirety for the first time. Now, the company has taken the wraps off a major update for Windows Server, known as Windows Server 8, the Developer Preview build of which is now available to all MSDN subscribers.
Windows Server 8’s main purpose is to address many of the hurdles IT managers would have to go through when maintaining their servers, with new features that will benefit large and small domains. In fact, 300 new features are built into this new release, according to Microsoft.
What should be obvious when first setting up the server is the new Server Manager, which leaves last decade’s using interface paradigms and replaces them with a Metro-style user interface, with clean colors and really accessible features. This change will be particularly welcomed by those who are setting up a new server, but it should benefit all server managers as well.
More than just eye-candy and efficiency, Windows Server 8 focuses particularly on a technology there has been a lot of demand for: virtualization. Starting with Windows Server 2008, which shipped three years ago, Hyper-V, an advanced virtual machine software which allows for much more granularity than consumer virtualization solutions such as VirtualPC, was built right in. Fast-forward to today, Microsoft will ship a new version of Hyper-V, version 3.0. Among the many improvements, one particularly stands out: a new virtual hard disk format, known as VHDX, which supports larger sizes than the current 2TB-limit on standard VHD files. This change alone will make this tool much more saleable for those who deal with high-end virtualization on a daily basis. Keep in mind that this new format is only supported on Windows 8 onwards.
Windows Server 8 is Windows 8’s server counterpart. The client version of Windows 8 was thoroughly shown off yesterday and a developer preview was made available to all users who wished to get it (you can still download it from here). Windows 8 includes a long-rumored user interface redesign, which takes cues from Windows Phone 7’s user experience, such as live tiles and fluid multi-touch navigation. Predictably, Windows 8 Server doesn’t include the user interface additions.
Windows 8 Server Developer Preview is available from MSDN today, not publicly like its client counterpart. Bear in mind that this is a developer preview and shouldn’t be used for actual deployment.