Previewing Windows Server 2008

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During his keynote address at the annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in May, Bill Gates announced that the next server operating system from Microsoft will be called Windows Server 2008, likely to be released next year.



Previously going by the code name Windows Server “Longhorn,” the system has been made available in beta versions in 2005 and ’06, and a third beta version was made available in April. Server 2008 introduces a range of new features. It has clean service shutdown, giving applications all the time they need to shut down, as long as they signal back that they are shutting down, rather than holding them to an arbitrary 20-second timer.



It allows for parallel session creation, up to four at a time with a standard server, meaning faster processing for multiple users on a server. It has a kernel transaction manager, which acts to prevent multiple threads seeking access to the same resource, a cause of registry and file system corruption. It has a self-healing Windows NT file system, a service that can detect a file system error and fix it without the need to take any part of the server down.



It also has a feature called Windows Hardware Error Architecture (WHEA), which standardizes the protocol by which applications report errors as they occur. This standardization will allow third-party software to manage errors, creating a viable market for server-management software.



Server 2008 also introduces virtualization development with Windows server virtualization, an implementation of operating system-level virtualization — server virtualization technology that virtualizes servers on an operating system layer.



The effect of this is to partition a single physical server into multiple small partitions. According to Microsoft, this will not be part of Server 2008’s initial offering. Rather, it will be added six months later.



Another change introduced with Server 2008 is improvement in Terminal Services, a component of Microsoft operating systems that allows a user to access applications or data stored on a remote computer over a network connection. Server 2008 will give users the ability to share a single application over a remote desktop connection instead of the entire desktop.



These are just a few examples of the new tools Server 2008 will provide. A more significant development is the announcement that it will include PowerShell, a command-line tool capable of replacing graphical user interface-based administration.



While Server 2008 has been in beta, it’s been unclear whether PowerShell would part of “Longhorn.” It’s now been confirmed as part of the system that will likely ship next year.



It’s widely agreed that the most notable new feature of Server 2008 is Server Core, a new installation tool that allows a scaled-back installation where no Windows Explorer shell is installed, with all configuration and maintenance done through command-line interface windows or by connecting to the machine remotely, using Microsoft Management Console.



Essentially, Server Core allows system and network administrators to use a Windows server but eschew much of the baggage associated with Windows itself. 

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