The Windows Server Notebook


December 2, 2013  5:23 PM

November in review: the top Windows Server content

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we round up and share the Windows Server content from the previous month that was most popular with our readers.

Windows Server admins kept busy in November by catching up on PowerShell scripting, the latest Patch Tuesday security updates and the latest virtual disk features.

What content helped you or your organization most last month? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

Important Hyper-V, critical IE vulnerabilities have Patch Tuesday fixes
The latest round of Patch Tuesday security updates included fixes for critical vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, the Windows Graphics Device Interface and a zero-day bug in an ActiveX control. An important vulnerability for Hyper-V was dubbed “coolest” by one analyst.

Make Windows virtualization tasks easier by running PowerShell scripts
With Windows Server 2012 R2 hitting general availability, there’s a revamped version of PowerShell that includes more cmdlets than ever to help admins automate tasks. Admins have a number of resources to learn which cmdlets will be best for their organization.

Learn how to resize virtual disks in Windows Server 2012 R2
This Ask the Expert piece takes a look at whether virtual disks can be resized in Windows Server 2012 R2 and what admins should know before they tackle resizing virtual disks, including requirements and what to expect in the process.

Features of virtual hard disks in Windows Server 2012 R2
Admins should take the time to learn about virtual disks and the characteristics of virtual disks in Windows Server 2012 R2. Critical to virtualization, these disks have a number of features that were specifically designed to enhance performance.

How a Windows Server data center can benefit from shared virtual disks
When used correctly, shared virtual disks can be a big benefit for a Windows Server data center. Multiple virtual machines can share just one virtual disk in Windows Server 2012 R2, which means failover clusters aren’t limited to storage topology anymore.

November 7, 2013  6:32 PM

November Patch Tuesday has critical fixes for IE, Server

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

For November’s Patch Tuesday, admins can give thanks for security with the upcoming fixes from Microsoft.

In its advanced security notice, the company said it would have eight total bulletins in its latest batch of updates, three of which are critical.

The three critical bulletins will address remote code execution vulnerabilities in multiple versions of Windows Server and Internet Explorer. The five important bulletins will address remote code execution, denial of service and information disclosure vulnerabilities in multiple versions of Windows and Microsoft Office.

Last month marked the tenth anniversary of Patch Tuesday. The month’s bulletins brought the yearly bulletin total up to 87, a significant increase from 70 bulletins at the same point last year.

What do you think of the upcoming Patch Tuesday fixes? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.


November 5, 2013  8:07 PM

Ship my drives: Windows Azure import and export service enters preview

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

If it’s stored in the cloud, it ships. Microsoft’s Windows Azure Storage team debuted an import/export service for transporting large Azure blobs in to and out of Azure.  Currently in preview, the feature lets admins transport a large amount of data efficiently without incurring high bandwidth costs.

The service can only accept shipments that originate in the United States and return to U.S. addresses right now. Interested IT shops can import to and export from these regions: East US, West US, North Central US, South Central US, North Europe, West Europe, East Asia and Southeast Asia.

Microsoft will charge an $80 handling fee for the service but will offer it at $40 during the preview period. There are also additional charges for copying data between Windows Azure regions. There are additional requirements with using the service, such as a 4 TB maximum disk size limit and being able to only ship 10 drives per job.

Cloud competitors like Rackspace offer similar features.

The news was part of a host of additions and improvements to Azure, including access control lists and HD Insights.


November 1, 2013  1:45 PM

October in review: the top Windows Server news and features

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we highlight the most popular with our Windows Server followers from the previous month.

For October, admins kept busy by catching up on things like Microsoft’s cloud plans, the company’s new schedule for upgrades and Windows Server features trying to impact the tablet game.

Was there a story that helped you or your organization last month? Was it something we didn’t include in the list? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

Will the new rapid release cadence from Microsoft work?
With Microsoft’s recent pledge to deliver OS upgrades on a more frequent schedule, enterprises are wondering how the new schedule will affect them. Our expert says the new schedule is a mixed bag and that organizations need to look at the pros and cons.

Microsoft offers up cloud plans as it faces competitors
As it continues to face stiff competition in the cloud from Amazon, Microsoft’s next move is offering Azure discounts to customers entering enterprise agreements. The lower cost is a draw, but some believe another price raise could happen after shops make the commitment.

Will Windows Server 2012 R2 features be a tablet game-changer?
Microsoft has received a lot of criticism for its Surface tablets and it hopes to strike back at its critics with new features for mobile workers in Windows Server 2012 R2. But even with these new features, there are still doubts they’ll get a leg up over iOS or Android devices.

Windows Azure could make or break Microsoft’s cloud future
Shops have been slow to take up Azure, which could mean trouble for the company that’s bet on the platform for their ultimate success in the cloud. Recent Azure outages have been a major concern, and some question Microsoft’s reluctance to offer up concrete finance numbers.

Patch Tuesday updates bring eight security bulletins, IE fixes
As admins marked the tenth anniversary of Patch Tuesday, the latest updates included fixes for critical remote code execution vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, .NET Framework and OpenType font. Other fixes were included for important vulnerabilities in Office, Silverlight and SharePoint Server.


October 17, 2013  4:03 PM

The next Windows wave is here with Windows Server 2012 R2 release

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Admins can now get their hands on the final versions Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.

Just over a year after Windows Server 2012 became generally available for administrators, it’s hard to call the R2 version greatly-anticipated. Microsoft is continuing its speedier pace of releases by offering new versions in an 18-month span.

There is an update available upon installing the final build of Windows Server 2012 R2. Microsoft describes the update as “finishing touch improvements” for performance. Specifically, Hyper-V has general virtualization reliability improvements, and the file server gets fixes for failover clustering and deduplication. It also stabilizes the boot up process.

Windows 8.1 is also available as a free update to Windows 8. It receives day-one fixes for issues with graphics and bundled-in applications.

Windows Server 2012 R2 is also available as a virtual machine for Windows Azure customers.

Are you deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 soon? Let us know by tweeting @SearchWinServer or email me at jstanley@techtarget.com.


October 3, 2013  5:45 PM

Critical IE, Windows Server fixes coming for October Patch Tuesday

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Microsoft will treat admins with security updates to prevent malicious tricks for October’s Patch Tuesday. Unfortunately, admins will be on their own for Halloween candy.

In its advance security notification, the company said admins should expect security updates in eight bulletins this month. Four of the bulletins will be critical and four will be important.

This month’s critical bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities in multiples versions of Internet Explorer, Windows Server and .NET Framework. October’s important bulletins address remote code execution and information disclosure vulnerabilities in Microsoft Silverlight and multiple versions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and Windows Server.

There’s a noticeable decrease in this month’s security updates. September’s Patch Tuesday updates included 13 bulletins with critical fixes for Microsoft Outlook, Office and IE.

What do you think of this month’s Patch Tuesday updates? Let us know in the comments below or let us know on Twitter @SearchWinServer.


October 1, 2013  2:58 PM

September in review: the top Windows Server news and content

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In this feature, we round up the Windows Server content most popular with our readers from the previous month and share it with you.

Our readers kept busy in September by looking at the latest Patch Tuesday updates, upcoming licensing changes and cloud options for their organization.

Did you or your organization get help from a particular tip last month? Was it something we didn’t include in our list? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

September Patch Tuesday includes critical fixes for Outlook, Office and IE
Windows Server admins had their hands full in September’s Patch Tuesday with security updates coming in 13 bulletins for 47 vulnerabilities. The most critical fixes came for vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook.

Server and Cloud Enrollment includes changes to Microsoft licensing model
A new licensing model with a push toward cloud technology will roll out later this year, forcing organizations to reevaluate their current model and consider moving to a more cost-effective option.

Cost savings, efficiency come with running AWS for Windows Server
Using Amazon Web Services to run Windows Server can be a more cost-effective and efficient option for an organization, but do research on specific aspects — such as system configuration and licensing agreements — to see if it will be a good fit.

New cloud-ready features come in Active Directory Federated Services
With Microsoft’s endless push to the cloud, it’s no surprise that Active Directory Federated Services in Windows Server 2012 R2 comes with new features to federate identities between cloud services and on-premises servers.


September 9, 2013  7:03 PM

TechNet, MSDN customers get first crack at Windows Server 2012 R2

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Customers with MSDN and TechNet descriptions will be able to download the RTM versions of Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft said this week. But don’t expect it to be the final build that ships.

In a blog post, the company said these customers would be able to start downloading these products beginning this week, well ahead of the Oct. 18 general availability date.

Microsoft said it will continue to update the RTM build ahead of its release.

This is a reversal of its decision to withhold RTM products from everyone until Oct. 18, a decision which was reiterated just a few weeks ago. The company said the change comes in response to feedback from its customers.

Windows 8.1’s RTM release is also available for MSDN and TechNet.

What do you think of this change to Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM news? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.


September 5, 2013  5:49 PM

Critical fixes coming for Office, IE in September Patch Tuesday

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Admins will have their plenty of updates to keep them busy with this month’s Patch Tuesday security bulletins.

In its advance security notification, Microsoft said it will have 14 security bulletins for the month of September, four of which are critical.

The critical bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities and affect multiple versions of Office, SharePoint, Internet Explorer and Windows Server.

September’s important bulletins address a number of vulnerabilities, including remote code execution, elevation of privilege, information disclosure and denial of service. These bulletins will affect .NET Framework and multiple versions of Office and Windows Server.

Half of this month’s bulletins affect Microsoft Office. Multiple versions of the suite will receive updates from two of the critical and five of the important bulletins.

What do you think of September’s Patch Tuesday bulletins? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.


September 3, 2013  4:23 PM

After Ballmer: What is Microsoft’s strategy for the future?

Ed Scannell Ed Scannell Profile: Ed Scannell

There is little sense in adding to the avalanche of criticism that cascaded down on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer since he announced he was leaving the company. The strategic missteps he made in his tenure as CEO the past 13 years are well documented. Why he couldn’t find a single technology visionary inside or outside the company with whom he could formulate a compelling strategy for the future remains a mystery.

The more important issue at hand is finding a successor with such a vision and, as importantly, clearing a political path for him or her to execute that vision. The difficulty here, one Microsoft’s major competitors don’t have to deal with, is finding such a visionary that also can manage at $70 billion-plus software company, a company with a rough and tumble political environment.

There is an excellent chance such a candidate doesn’t exist. Inside the company the only one who could grow into that role is Satya Nadella, currently Microsoft’s executive vice president of the company’s Cloud and Enterprise group. He has the job title that perfectly positions him for making some of the tough decisions involving all the pieces of Microsoft’s cloud strategy (think devices and services), with a Masters in computer science he has the technical chops to walk the walk and, at 43, he is young enough to have a good feel for where the new technology trends are coming from.

Oh, and one added benefit to Nadella taking the throne — as my colleague Diana Hwang points out — he has the right amount of geek chic to sell that vision to younger IT professionals coming up through the ranks.

Outside the company, there are few to no prospects that might realistically be interested in taking on the challenge, despite the potentially huge financial rewards if he or she is successful. It is doubtful that a Lou Gerstner will emerge as he did in the early 1990s to save IBM, or a Steve Jobs coming back in 1997 to do the same for Apple.

Microsoft could go the conservative route and hire from within, someone like Craig Mundie, a proven, professional manager who wouldn’t rock the boat and carry on with what Ballmer has put in place. But that is not what Microsoft needs. It needs someone who has the guts to trade in the existing boat for one that is faster and more agile.

The new CEO, likely an outsider, will have help Microsoft  rethink what it wants to be, which most recently is to be a devices and services company. As part of that process, one of the toughest decisions he or she must make is dropping the Surface tablet/desktop. It is a noble attempt at trying something innovative, but it has inspired few to make any sizable investments.

If the new CEO can’t dissuade the company from dropping it completely, at least he or she could stop selling it directly and let Asian-based, high-volume suppliers sell it. That would at least give the company something of a customer base to sell Windows 8 to. Microsoft now, and never has, had a promising future as a systems hardware company. But with the acquisition of Nokia, a new CEO would have trouble getting out of the business of selling devices.

The second tough decision, related to the first, is to release the version of Office for iPad the company has had locked up in the vault for well over a year, according to sources inside the company. Ballmer personally laid down the law that the iPad version of Office would not ship at the same time as the version for Windows, for fear it would hurt sales of the Surface.

Well, that’s all a moot point now. As we come up on the one-year anniversary of the Surface, the company has sold between one and two million units. Microsoft likely would have sold millions of copies of Office for iPad in that time. Microsoft has a much more promising future as a software company.

In fact, it may have a more promising future as a software and services company. With devices out of the way, Microsoft would do well to think about what Web services it can deliver, most importantly, for Office. If the company is going to ask corporate users to pay $100 a year to switch to the Web-based version of Office, it would be nice if the company could deliver something to users other than their own-cloud-based data. Delivering new value-added services for Office, such as better analytics for instance, might entice both existing and new users.

Such services, I would assume, would be delivered from Windows Azure which would offer Microsoft a boost to that platform, which sorely needs more cloud-based applications.

We’ll save for another time what the new CEO must do to address the corrosive nature of Microsoft’s in-house politics.

Email the author of this post at escannell@techtarget.com.


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