After installing the Windows 8 desktop developer preview, I didn't expect all that much out of the server flavor. But between what I saw and what I've heard since the Windows Build conference in September, I'm surprisingly impressed -- and mildly intimidated.
First, allow me to explain the intimidation. Any time I kick in a new version of Windows and I'm greeted by a new look, like the Metro UI, I'm uncomfortable. But I'm even more put off when the management tools I've grown used to have changed. After the install of Windows Server 8, I was greeted by both a Metro UI and the new Server Management interface tuned for the new UI. "Deep breath ... don't hate it yet" was what ran through my mind.
[ Read InfoWorld's picks for the top 10 Windows Server 8 features, then take a visual tour of Windows Server 8. | Watch J. Peter Bruzzese's video tour of Windows 8, and take InfoWorld's tour of the new Windows 8 Metro UI. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
What's impressive is the amazing number of feature improvements. There are hundreds of new features, and not just for the top 10 monster companies whose needs sometimes distort what vendors offer. In the Windows Server 8 developer preview, there are features that will benefit every admin working in a Windows environment, and most of these new feature are actually working today. Three jump out immediately.
Admin feature No. 1: Server Manager goes multiserver
Windows Server 2008's Server Manager tool did a much better job than its predecessors in managing the local server and configuring various roles and features of the server itself. Windows 8 takes this to the next level, letting you apply its tools to multiple systems at the same time. For example, you can create server groups that allow you to make changes to multiple systems. That means you can now group and remotely control your IIS servers or DHCP servers as if they were one server -- perfect for headless systems running Server Core. You can now easily do your admin work in bulk: install updates, reboot, make adjustments, and so on.