The Windows Server Notebook

July 2, 2013  8:39 PM

Microsoft releases Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials preview

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

This week, Microsoft delivered a preview of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, a version of Windows Server geared toward small businesses.

The company also released a preview of the Windows Server Essentials Experience server role for Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and Standard editions.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is designed to help SMB customers virtualize environments with ease, said Jason Anderson, the group program manager for Windows Server Essentials team, in a company blog post.

Some of the most noteworthy features include the capability of guest VMs to be virtualized on a Windows Server Essentials host server, deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials in the cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines and improvements to cloud integration services. The products will also address the BYOD phenomenon enterprises face.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials will likely ship when Windows Server 2012 R2 ships, near the end of the year.

Have you used these previews? What do you think of them so far? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

July 1, 2013  7:16 PM

Microsoft drops TechNet subscriptions

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Microsoft this week said it would discontinue offering TechNet subscriptions in the coming months.

New subscriptions will no longer be available after Aug. 31, which should give users time to plan for the move. Users who have already purchased subscriptions have until Sept. 30 to activate them.

The company also released an updated FAQ  in conjunction with the news. Microsoft said it decided to shut down the service because it offers free evaluation software and resources. After it discontinues subscription service, the company said it would continue offering free services to users, including Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Microsoft also said users with existing TechNet subscriptions can renew them for one year, but it must be done before the Aug. 31 deadline.  The company will continue offering MSDN, which is a pricier, developer-oriented option for product evaluation.

Ed Bott at ZDNet notes the move may be a response to years of attempts to crack down on piracy.

What do you think of Microsoft’s decision to get rid of TechNet subscriptions? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

July 1, 2013  3:08 PM

June in review: the top Windows Server news and tips

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

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

Last month, our readers were most interested in what’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2, the latest Patch Tuesday updates and easy ways to make PowerShell work for them.

Hybrid cloud support arrives in System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2
New versions of System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012, which were announced at TechEd, will include support for hybrid clouds and multi-device management. Windows Server 2012 R2 includes storage, SDN and VM enhancements, and System Center 2012 R2 has better compatibility with Android and iOS. The preview hit in late June, during the Build developer conference.

Microsoft’s Brad Anderson breaks down Windows Server 2012 R2 in Q&A
In this two-part series, sat down with Brad Anderson for a Q&A session about Windows Server 2012 R2. Anderson, corporate vice president of Windows Server and System Center program management, goes into detail about Windows Server 2012 R2 adoption and its cross-platform integration.

Fixes for 32-bit Windows, Office in June Patch Tuesday updates
There was only one critical bulletin included in the updates for June’s Patch Tuesday, but that lone bulletin included fixes for 19 vulnerabilities in all recent versions of Internet Explorer. Office 2003 and 32-bit systems received important fixes for remote code execution and information disclosure vulnerability, respectively.

Easy tricks and tips all Windows admins should know for PowerShell
Now that Microsoft has taken on a “PowerShell first, GUI-second” mentality, it’s more important than ever for Windows admins to learn how to use PowerShell for their systems. Thankfully, this tip offers ideas about how admins can learn the management tasks PowerShell handles, how to save scripts and more.

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

June 27, 2013  8:03 PM

Microsoft previews Windows Azure autoscaling feature

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Dynamic scaling of Azure servers is about to get a whole lot easier. Microsoft rolled out Windows Azure autoscaling in preview this week.

At the Build developer conference in San Francisco this week, Microsoft officials touted the feature as bringing potential cost savings to the enterprise. The move will allow web developers to automatically scale web apps based on server load and traffic. Previously, developers had to code their own scripts to perform much of the same functions. Now, it’s a matter of a few clicks in Azure’s management portal.

Microsoft also said a number of products previously in preview are now generally available. One such product, Azure Mobile Services, affords developers the ability to build apps that run on platforms using Azure databases. The company also showed off demos of Azure BizTalk and Windows Azure Active Directory.

What do you think of the new developments to Azure? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

June 25, 2013  5:47 PM

Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 enter preview

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

As promised, Microsoft delivered early code for its server operating system. Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 are now available in evaluation form.

Demoed earlier this month at TechEd 2013, Windows Server 2012 R2 contains improvements in many areas of the product, including Hyper-V, storage and software-defined networking.  The preview can be downloaded here.

On the System Center 2012 R2 front, each individual product in the suite has received numerous enhancements, including improved support across multiple platforms and a revamped server manager view. System Center 2012 R2’s preview bits can be downloaded here.

The releases come just a day before Microsoft kicks off its Build conference, where it is expected to deliver Windows 8.1 preview bits to developers. It’s unclear what, if any, developments will be demonstrated on the Windows Server 2012 R2 front.

Have you tried the Windows System 2012 R2 or System Center 2012 R2 previews? What did you think? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

June 6, 2013  6:25 PM

Light month of fixes expected in June Patch Tuesday

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In an advance security notification, Microsoft said it will deliver five bulletins next week for this month’s Patch Tuesday.

June’s lone critical bulletin addresses a remote code execution vulnerability. Multiple versions of Internet Explorer and Windows will be affected.

This month’s four important bulletins will address vulnerabilities with information disclosure, denial of service, remote code execution and elevation of privilege. These fixes will affect multiple versions of Windows and Microsoft Office.

June has a markedly lighter number of bulletins than what admins have seen in recent months. May’s Patch Tuesday had ten patches and brought the yearly total of patches up to 45, a noticeable increase from the same point in 2012.

What do you think of this month’s patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

June 5, 2013  8:40 PM

Highlights from the top Windows Server content of 2013

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

As we approach the halfway point of the year, we want to showcase the most popular Windows Server content from 2013 so far. We looked at each month’s top news and tips and picked one piece to highlight.

Over the last few months, our readers have been interested in deduplication, GUI, System Center 2012 and Microsoft’s IaaS platform.

May: Ten fixes come in Patch Tuesday as totals increase from last year
May’s Patch Tuesday had ten total bulletins, including two critical fixes for Internet Explorer. Eight important fixes came for Visio, Essentials, Office, Windows Server and .NET Framework. May’s patches bring the yearly total up to 45, an increase from 35 patches at this point in 2012.

April: IT shops seek cloud strategies from Windows Azure Infrastructure Services
Amazon Web Services may be getting the boot from IT shops. Customers can sign up for a free trial of Microsoft’s IaaS platform, which has been built to be a reliable alternative to AWS with core improvements and cuts in cost.

March: Windows Server 2012 deduplication: seven things to know 
When it comes to demands for data storage, deduplication can make a difference. But there are seven things admins should know about deduplication before they plan to implement that technology.

February: Skip the GUI in Windows Server 2012
There are plenty of good reasons to keep the Modern UI when you work in Windows Server 2012, but there are ways for admins to work around it. Some options include moving tools to the desktop and bringing back the Start menu with third-party apps.

January: System Center 2012 SP1 hits general availability 
Admins looking for Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 support could finally get it after System Center 2012 SP1 became generally available. There were also fixes for bugs in the suite of management products as well as a new version of Windows Intune.

What Windows Server content has been most helpful for you? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer

May 23, 2013  7:40 PM

Microsoft releases update for migration assessment tool, MAP 8.5 Beta

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Earlier today, Microsoft released an update to its IT security assessment tool, Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 8.5 Beta.

The MAP Toolkit — which is used to securely evaluate IT environments for platform migrations — includes multiple updates and improvements, including hardware to plan for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 deployments.

One new feature is an updated user interface, which Microsoft says will make it easier for admins to choose the migration scenario best suited for the tasks at hand.

The company says MAP 8.5 Beta can ready IT environments for Office 365 and Office 2013. It can also be used for tracking Windows Server, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint usage and preparing to migrate to Windows Azure virtual machines.

Another update to the tool, Windows Volume Licensing, can identify workstation licensing status. There are also changes to the tool’s VM discovery and inventory capabilities.

MAP 8.5 Beta is available for download here on Microsoft’s Connect website.

The update to Microsoft’s security assessment tool, which is noted for being a cost-effective security option for enterprises, comes roughly five months after the release of MAP Toolkit 8.0.

May 9, 2013  6:13 PM

May Patch Tuesday includes critical fixes for Windows, IE

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Microsoft released its advance notification for this month’s Patch Tuesday, and admins can expect multiple patches for their systems.

There are ten bulletins in the advance notification for May. Two are marked critical and eight are marked important.

May’s two critical bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities and affect multiple Windows Server versions, as well as Internet Explorer.

The important bulletins address vulnerabilities with denial of service, spoofing, information disclosure, elevation of privilege and remote code execution. Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows Essentials and .NET Framework are affected.

April’s Patch Tuesday included 13 patches to address multiple vulnerabilities, including critical fixes for Remote Desktop Protocol and IE. Microsoft later recalled one of the security updates after receiving reports of failing applications and systems not recovering after failure.

What do you think of this month’s patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

May 1, 2013  4:03 PM

April in review: the top Windows Server tips and news

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

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

In April, our readers were interested in a new Hyper-V tool, what’s coming in future versions of Windows Server 2012, the most recent batch of Patch Tuesday bulletins and the latest Windows Azure developments.

April Patch Tuesday includes IE and RDP critical fixes, one recall
There were 13 vulnerabilities addressed in April’s Patch Tuesday bulletins, including critical fixes for Internet Explorer and Remote Desktop Protocol. Microsoft also recalled one security update after receiving reports of failing applications and systems.

IT shops look to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services for cloud strategies
Move over, Amazon Web Services. Customers can now sign up for a free trial of Microsoft’s Infrastructure as a Service platform, which has been set up as a reliable alternative to AWS with the help of price cuts and new core improvements.

Five things IT pros should know about Hyper-V’s low cost virtual switch
The Hyper-V virtual switch, which comes with Windows Server 2012 at no additional cost, is a popular topic. This tip looks at what makes the virtual switch such a big deal and offers five things to do to get the most out of the switch.

Spotlight turns to Windows Azure, software-defined networking plans
Two main points of conversation emerged at Microsoft Management Summit 2013. The first: Windows Azure’s System Center Management Pack is now available. The second: Microsoft will participate in an open source project to advance initiatives with software-defined networking.

Tech Watch feature highlights the future of Windows Server 2012
The major takeaway for IT pros is that the cloud OS is staying put. Be on the lookout for extending infrastructure into the cloud, moving workloads between on-premises servers and the cloud and a new design.

What content from April was most helpful to you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

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