The Windows Server Notebook


March 12, 2012  4:07 PM

System Center 2012 CTP for Windows Server 8 now available

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

On the heels of the Windows Server 8 beta release in late February, Microsoft released the Community Technology Preview of System Center 2012 late last week.

As Steven Bink posted, the preview software allows administrators to evaluate both the server OS and System Center together. Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager blog also discussed the CTP’s availability and encouraged testers to send the company feedback about the software.

For Windows Server 8 admins, Microsoft emphasizes System Center Data Protection Manager 2012, which enables protection of VMs on remote SMB shares and Cluster Shared Volumes 2.0. The Data Protection Manager component also includes the ability to protect files on de-duped volumes.

Redmond also wants admins to test out how the Virtual Machine Manager works in concert with Server 8. The company is soliciting feedback on features like live migration, SMB 2.2, Hyper-V virtual network creation and VHDx, the new file format.

As with every preview release, Microsoft cautions not to run the System Center 2012 CTP in a production environment.

March 9, 2012  4:07 PM

Microsoft to issue six fixes on a light Patch Tuesday

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

It’s said that March comes in like a lion, but this month’s patch bulletin from Microsoft looks more lamb-like.

Among the six fixes to be released on Tuesday, just one is labeled “critical” – a patch that addresses a remote code execution flaw in several Windows systems. Users of Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2, as well as Windows 7, Vista, and Windows XP SP 3, will all need to reboot their systems to apply the patch.

Also included will be four “important” patches, two of which will also require a restart of Windows systems (including a denial of service flaw and an elevation of privilege issue affecting all current versions of Windows Server). There is also one moderate patch affecting operating systems after Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.

One of the important patches addresses an privilege escalation vulnerability in the Visual Studio development tool; affected versions include VS 2008 SP1, VS 2010 and VS 2010 SP 1.

Keep an eye out for the full report next week, and visit SearchWindowsServer.com for a full rundown of February’s patches.


March 5, 2012  10:07 PM

Early thoughts on the Windows Server 8 beta

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

By the time Windows Server 8 is generally available, you’ll likely be as tired of hearing about it as you are about the Republican primary candidates. But right now, just five days after the beta was released into the wild, everyone’s hungry for analysis – and the pundits are eager to give it. Below are some choice early thoughts about the Windows Server 8 beta from around the web. Get ready to hear about these issues and others hundreds of times over the next several months (when it’s all said and done, “Metro-style interface” might overtake “Romney dog on roof” in terms of search engine results).

  • Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher took the plunge into “check-box hell” to give a blow-by-blow of the wizard-based installation process for Server Manager. Because someone had to do it.
  • Samara Lynn at PCMag suggests that most admins will opt out of the Metro-style interface (yes, commenters on every site, you can do that). She also says the sky’s the limit for Server 8 – and by “sky,” she means “compatibility.” If it won’t work within existing Windows infrastructures, it’ll be a tough sell for IT.
  • After lauding Server 8′s storage capabilities, ZDNet UK’s Simon Bisson says the cloud-centric OS has something for everyone, “from the smallest home office to the largest international company.” That sounds good, but do one-man shops have the PowerShell knowledge to use it effectively?
  • Jonathan Hassell gets his hands dirty with the beta for ComputerWorld, and calls the mixed design “just plain ugly” – you probably won’t be seeing that quote on a Microsoft page anytime soon. On SearchWindowsServer.com, he also ran through the actual new features in the beta that we hadn’t already seen in the developer’s preview, including better Remote Desktop support and improved management of roaming profiles.

Of course, these are just the professional reviews – we’ve seen dozens more reactions on Twitter and elsewhere from admins around the world. What’s your take so far? What can you stand to read more about? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @WindowsTT.


February 29, 2012  4:21 PM

Windows 8 Consumer Preview launch: reactions around the Web

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

See below for our Storify of the Windows 8 launch.

Note: Due to some compatibility issues with Internet Explorer, the Storify might not show up; view it at Storify’s website here.

Continued »


February 29, 2012  3:17 PM

Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server 8 beta download links

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Today, Microsoft released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Server 8 beta. Looking to be among the first to tinker with the new bits? Here are the download links. We’ll have an in-depth look at the improved features soon enough.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview

ISO Images: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso

Windows Server 8 beta: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx?ocid=&wt.mc_id=TEC_108_1_33

Related links:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business (PDF): http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28970

Windows Server 8 beta evaluation guide (PDF): http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/E/6/1E69F2EF-F6CA-4470-8029-BFFFBF972EC8/WS8%20Beta%20Evaluation%20Guide.pdf

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Remote Administration Tools: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28972

Assessment and Deployment Toolkit for Windows 8 Consumer Preview: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28997

Visual Studio 11 Ultimate Beta: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28975


February 28, 2012  9:00 PM

The Windows 8 Launch Drinking Game

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Microsoft will launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Wednesday at an invitation-only event during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While there will reportedly be no live feed of the announcement, we’re pretty sure that details will leak out one way or another over the course of the day.

During the inevitable onslaught of buzzwords, why not get a little bit of a buzz? Our Windows 8 launch drinking game is a handy way to keep tabs on this major event, and have a little fun doing it. The rules are simple – whenever you read or hear one of the words listed below on Wednesday, take the appropriate drink (of coffee or tea, naturally; the event starts at 3 p.m. Barcelona time, which is 9 a.m. EST/6 a.m. PST — even the biggest Microsoft fans don’t party that hard).

Got a word to add to the list, or just don’t want to drink alone? Drop us a line on Twitter @WindowsTT (hashtag: #win8buzz).


February 24, 2012  3:31 PM

Windows Server 8 beta coming February 29

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

In addition to unveiling the Windows 8 Consumer Preview at a February 29 event during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft will also launch the Windows Server 8 beta on that day, according to The Verge. Some application certification documentation is available on MSDN, including a note that Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 applications “should work” on the Windows Server 8 beta (an app certification kit is also available, though it won’t be useful until you already have your hands on either the Consumer Preview or the beta).

Also coming on February 29 will be the Visual Studio 11 beta. The developer software will feature integration with Microsoft System Center 2012, which should enable more efficient communication between administrators and developers when responding to program crashes. Microsoft will also release the .Net 4.5 beta next week.

In delivering these beta releases, Microsoft has the core pieces in place for many of its cloud, management, and development strategies. It remains to be seen how the timing of these releases will affect the eventual delivery of the final code, and whether all the products will be available by the end of 2012.

What are you looking forward to the in the Windows Server 8 beta? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @WindowsTT.


February 20, 2012  2:51 PM

Microsoft extends expiration date of developer previews

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft released an update this week that extends the expiration dates of the Windows 8 Developer Preview and the Windows Server 8 developer preview.

In a note posted on Microsoft’s support site, admins can download the patch that extends the Developer Preview from April 2012 to January 15, 2013. It’s a curious step, considering Microsoft hasn’t given any reasoning for the extension.

As is the norm with other preview Microsoft releases, after the expiration date systems will restart every hour and nag the user to give it it a new activation key or update the software. That update should come sooner than mid-January.

Microsoft PR says that there is nothing new to report about regarding Windows Server 8 availability. Meanwhile, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is due out February 29 during Mobile World Congress.


February 14, 2012  3:44 PM

Windows IT: Where is the love?

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

When it comes to online discussions of Microsoft and Windows, negativity is pretty much the norm.

If you’ve read any articles recently about a new Microsoft feature or product, this should come as little surprise. Typically, within a comment or two you’ll find someone predicting how the company will screw things up – or, more likely, that the new offering is made irrelevant by Linux, VMware, Apple, or some other competitor.

It’s not much better on social media. I follow the #WindowsServer Twitter hashtag daily, and more often than not, my feed is packed with the idle thoughts of frustrated users like this guy:

That’s just one of many messages, but it’s representative. Amplicate is a service that analyzes public sentiment about products, companies and services by aggregating messages posted on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on its own site. As of today, the service had logged 156 opinions about Windows Server – 107 of them negative (a 69% Hate rating). You probably won’t see the below “bumper sticker” (available for embedding from Amplicate) in a Microsoft press release anytime soon.

It’s not the only Microsoft offering whose public approval rating leaves a lot to be desired. Windows has a 67% Hate rating with over 70,000 opinions logged (Windows 8 is at 59% Hate), and the Windows Azure public cloud platform has resonated with just 2% of Amplicate users — in contrast, Amazon Web Services (56% Love) and Rackspace (77% Love) still managed to garner positive numbers.

One area where Redmond does appear to be in the running for public affection: virtualization. Microsoft’s hypervisor offering, Hyper-V, has a 66% Love rating. It’s not quite at the level of VMware vSphere (84% Love), but it’s gotta give some hope.

Obviously you can take these numbers with a grain of salt, as they represent only a portion of the public – and likely not of the people actually making enterprise purchasing decisions. But on a day reserved for love, I have to ask: Why don’t we see more of it from Windows admins online? Is the situation really as bad as it seems, or is it just not a top priority to Tweet an ode to Server 2008 R2?

Let me know how you really feel in the comments. Or on Twitter, of course.


February 10, 2012  5:24 PM

Microsoft’s Valentine’s Day bulletin to include nine patches addressing 21 vulnerabilities

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Microsoft may not be able to patch that hole in admins’ hearts on Tuesday, but it will take care of a number of other vulnerable spots.

According to an advance notice, the company’s next security bulletin will include nine patches, four of which are labeled ‘critical,’ addressing 21 vulnerabilities in Windows, Windows Server, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and .NET and Silverlight.

Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are the most affected products, with six bulletins applying to each, including three critical updates. In contrast, only four bulletins apply to Windows Server 2003, two of which are critical. Five bulletins apply to Windows 7.

All critical updates are related to remote code execution flaws, with the most pressing fixing an issue in Internet Explorer. Most patches will require a restart. The bulletins will be released on Tuesday, February 14 around 1 p.m. EST.

Related: Five quick links on server security and patch management


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