- Windows Server 2008 Defined
- When Is the Right Time to Migrate?
- Versions of Windows Server 2008
- What's New and What's the Same About Windows Server 2008?
- Changes in Active Directory
- Windows Server 2008 Benefits for Administration
- Improvements in Security in Windows Server 2008
- Improvements in Windows Server 2008 for Better Branch Office Support
- Improvements for Thin Client Terminal Services
- Improvements in Clustering and Storage Area Network Support
- Improvements in Server Roles in Windows Server 2008
- Identifying Which Windows Server 2008 Service to Install or Migrate to First
What's New and What's the Same About Windows Server 2008?
From a Microsoft marketing perspective, Windows 2008 could be said to be faster, more secure, more reliable, and easier to manage. And it is true that the Windows 2008 operating system has all these capabilities. However, this section notes specifically which changes are cosmetic changes compared with previous Windows operating systems and which changes truly improve the overall administrative and end-user experience due to improvements in the operating system.
Visual Changes in Windows Server 2008
The first thing you notice when Windows 2008 boots up is the new Windows Vista-like graphical user interface (GUI). This is obviously a simple cosmetic change to standardize the current look and feel of the Windows operating systems. Just like with Windows Vista, a user can switch the new Windows GUI to look like the classic mode, and because most administrators have worked with Windows 2000/2003 for a long time, many tend to switch off the Vista GUI and configure the system to look like the classic version. It makes no difference whether the new GUI or the classic GUI is enabled; all the features and functions of the Windows 2008 operating system are the same in either mode.
Continuation of the Forest and Domain Model
Windows 2008 also uses the exact same Active Directory forest, domain, site, organizational unit, group, and user model as Windows 2000/2003. So if you liked how Active Directory was set up before, it doesn't change with Windows 2008 Active Directory. Even the Active Directory Sites and Services, Active Directory Users and Computers (shown in Figure 1.4), and Active Directory Domains and Trusts administrative tools work exactly the same.
Figure 1.4 Active Directory Users and Computers tool.
There are several changes to the names of the Active Directory services as well as significant improvements within Active Directory that are covered in the section "Changes in Active Directory" a little later in this chapter.
Changes That Simplify Tasks
Windows 2008 has added several new capabilities that simplify tasks. These capabilities could appear to be simply cosmetic changes; however, they actually provide significant benefits for administrative management.
Initial Configuration Tasks Application
One of these improvements is noticed soon after installing Windows 2008 on a system and booting the system up for the first time. The installation of Windows 2008 no longer requires you to enter in the server name, IP address, or administrator password when you install the operating system. It isn't until you boot the operating system and log on for the first time that you are presented with an Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard, shown in Figure 1.5, that provides you a list of tasks to perform that customizes your Windows 2008 server system. You can find more details on the Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard in Chapter 3, "Installing Windows Server 2008 and Server Core."
Figure 1.5 Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard.
New Server Manager Tool
Another tool that has been added is the Server Manager console, shown in Figure 1.6. Server Manager consolidates all of the administrative management consoles from Windows 2000/2003 into a single management tool. Now instead of having to open up the Active Directory Users and Computers console, and then toggle to the DNS Server console, and load up and view information in a separate Terminal Services console, all of the information is in one screen.
Figure 1.6 Server Manager.
Additionally, other tools like the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) show up in Server Manager under the Features node and provide an administrator the ability to edit group policies, change policies, and apply policies from the same console that the administrator can make DNS changes, add users, and change IP configuration changes to site configuration settings.
PowerShell for Administrative Tasks
An add-in feature in Windows 2008, PowerShell is a full scripting language for administration tasks. PowerShell was first introduced in Exchange 2007 as the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) that underlies all functions of Exchange 2007 administration. PowerShell can be added to Windows 2008 as an additional feature using Server Manager.
PowerShell in Windows 2008 provides the ability for administrators to script processes, such as adding users, adding computers, or even more complicated tasks such as querying a database, extracting usernames, and then creating Active Directory users, and to provision Exchange mailboxes all from a PowerShell script.
All future server products released from Microsoft will have the PowerShell foundation built in to the core Windows 2008 operating system, thus making it easier for products running on Windows 2008 to use the same administrative scripting language. PowerShell is covered in detail in Chapter 21, "Automating Tasks Using PowerShell Scripting."
Increased Support for Standards
The release of Windows 2008 introduced several industry standards built in to the Windows operating system. These changes continue a trend of the Windows operating system supporting industry standards rather than proprietary Microsoft standards. One of the key standards built in to Windows 2008 is IPv6.
Internet Protocol version 6 (or IPv6) is the future Internet standard for TCP/IP addressing. Most organizations support Internet Protocol version 4 (or IPv4). Due to the Internet numbering scheme running out of address space in its current implementation of addressing, Internet communications of the future need to support IPv6, which provides a more robust address space.
Additionally, IPv6 supports new standards in dynamic addressing and Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). Part of IPv6 is to have support for the current IPv4 standards so that dual addressing is possible. With Windows 2008 supporting IPv6, an organization can choose to implement a dual IPv6 and IPv4 standard to prepare for Internet communications support in the future. IPv6 is covered in detail in Chapter 10.