The Windows Server Notebook

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.

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September 3, 2013  2:41 PM

August in review: the most popular Windows Server tips and news

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we highlight the most popular content from the previous month and share it with you.

Last month, our readers were most interested in content that covered Patch Tuesday, PowerShell 4.0 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition gets pricing hike
The news of a 28% increase to this version of Windows Server 2012 R2 left many IT pros wondering about the reaction from potential customers and the impact it would have on enterprise adoption.

Ballmer’s retirement surprises few IT pros, saddens even fewer
As Steve Ballmer announced plans to retire from Microsoft in the next 12 months, questions came up about who would take the helm at a company in the midst of a reorganization and what his legacy would be.

Task automation gets easier with PowerShell 4.0
Changes in the newest iteration of this scripting language has multiple changes to help admins automate tasks, including a new feature called Desired State Configuration and new parameters.

Exchange, Internet Explorer vulnerabilities fixed in Patch Tuesday
Microsoft released fixes for 23 vulnerabilities in August’s Patch Tuesday, including a familiar critical security update for Exchange and 11 critical updates for IE.

BYOD sync gets help from Windows Server 2012 R2 Work Folders
Work Folders, a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2, helps admins synchronize data for offline use in multiple devices and can be enabled through PowerShell or Server Manager.

What content from August was most helpful for you? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter at @SearchWinServer.

August 27, 2013  2:38 PM

Windows Server 2012 R2 released to manufacturing

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft hit an important milestone this week as it finalized Windows Server 2012 R2 ahead of its Oct. 18 launch.

In the past, IT shops with MSDN or TechNet subscriptions could begin downloading the bits as soon as Microsoft said the operating system hit the RTM stage.

This time around, everyone will have access to the final product on the same day. This is because Microsoft will complete the final validation checks after this stage ahead of its release, meaning the company can prepare day-one patches if necessary.

Windows 8.1 has also reached the RTM stage.

The company says it packed more than a year’s worth of innovation into Windows Server 2012 R2, which boasts new features like Work Folders and an expanded PowerShell.

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

August 23, 2013  5:34 PM

Twitter reacts to Steve Ballmer’s retirement

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

On Friday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he would retire at the conclusion of a search to replace him, within 12 months.

Check out this collection of tweets reacting to the news. Click here if you have trouble seeing it.

August 16, 2013  3:41 PM

Microsoft backtracks on another Patch Tuesday update

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

For the second time this week, Microsoft is backtracking on a security update from the latest round of Patch Tuesday fixes.

MS13-066, an important update for Active Directory Federation Service (AD FS), was pulled because of customers reporting functionality issues after installing the update. Microsoft said the update was being pulled because it could stop AD FS from working, but there’s no official word yet on what’s causing the issues.

This is the second update the company has pulled since releasing this month’s Patch Tuesday releases. Microsoft backtracked on a critical Exchange update earlier this week after it didn’t test the update in a dogfood environment before releasing it.

One Exchange MVP called the pull the “latest in a long line of cock-ups.” Other experts suggested that pulling the critical update suggested that the quarterly release of Exchange updates was at risk.

What do you think of these updates being pulled? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

August 14, 2013  3:05 PM

Windows Server 2012 R2 available on Oct. 18, new purchases Nov. 1

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Earlier this week, Microsoft set a price for Windows Server 2012 R2. Now it has a release date.

The company said in a blog post that it will make available the latest server operating system on Friday, Oct. 18 for “eligible customers.” New purchasers will be able to get Server R2 just two weeks later on Friday, Nov. 1.

Microsoft that day also plans to release not only Windows Server 2012 R2, but also Windows 8.1, Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 and Microsoft Intune.

The simultaneous launches raise two important questions. One, what does this mean for Microsoft’s overall product release strategy? And two, how can the company serve up all that data without being severely bandwidth constrained? We’ll have to see about that last part in October.

Read about the changes to Windows Server and System Center here, and check out our two-part Q&A with Brad Anderson, CVP of Windows Server and System Center.

What do you think about the release dates? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

July 31, 2013  6:53 PM

Popular Windows Server definitions you need to know

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

As we move into the second half of 2013, we decided to look at some of the most popular Windows Server definitions from the year so far. We highlighted the most popular terms and additional information that will help you have a better understanding of how each term fits into the larger Windows Server picture.

Internet Information Server (IIS)

Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) is a web server that includes programs to build and manage web sites. It also includes support for search engines and web-based applications to access databases.

The latest iteration of IIS is IIS 8, which has features to help users build large-scale web hosts. The previous version of IIS, IIS 7, included updates for user rights, the installation process and troubleshooting.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (SCCM 2012)

System Center Configuration Manager 2012is a product that lets admins manage the deployment and security of devices and applications in an enterprise. SCCM 2012 discovers devices connected on a network and installs client software on each node.

SCCM is  a solid mobile device management option for enterprises. It takes a “user-centric” approach to application delivery and management while providing endpoint protection. Configuration Manager can also be an option for admins looking for something that goes further than Exchange ActiveSync.

Active Directory (AD)

Active Directory is Microsoft’s trademarked directory service that automates network management of distributed resources, user data and security. It is designed for distributed networking.

When Windows Server 2012 was released, AD received a number of updates. Windows Server 2012 can now support AD cloud deployments. Microsoft also made significant fixes to help AD work well with Windows Failover Clusters, including more flexible organizational unit administration and AD cluster protection from deletion.

Group Policy Object (GPO)

A Group Policy Object  is a collection of settings in AD that define what a system looks like for a group of users. GPOs are associated with select AD containers, including domains, organizational units and sites.

With the release of Windows Server 2012, GPOs received major changes. New GPOs were introduced for Windows 8 and for controlling the Setting Sync feature. There were also new GPOs in the Group Policy Update option in the Group Policy Management Console.

Domain controller (DC)

A domain controller (DC) is an assigned role for a server in a computer network. Primary domain controllers (PDCs) manage the master user database for the domain. Backup domain controllers (BDCs) are other servers in the network that balance a busy network’s workload and step up as a PDC is the PDC server fails.

In Windows Server 2012, a new AD feature changes the way DCs are provisioned. The deployment Wizard, which is built on PowerShell, promotes cloud-based servers to DCs and makes it easier for admins to perform large-scale AD deployments.

What definitions have been most helpful for you this year? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

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