Welcome to Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Server2012eLogoLast week, Microsoft announced this new edition of Windows Server 2012 called Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

This new edition replaces Windows Small Business Server (both the Standard and the Essentials editions) as well as the now defunct Windows Home Server.

What makes this release interesting is it shows what Microsoft’s strategy is around the “first server” space. It used to be that the preferred solution was the monolithic Small Business Server. Everything that a business needed was on one physical box. Exchange was there for email, SharePoint was there for collaboration, and being that it’s a Windows box, line of business applications could be installed.  However, with the huge bet that Microsoft is making on the cloud, they are doing away with SBS Standard and building on the Colorado platform (SBS Essentials and Windows Home Server).

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is really Windows Small Business Server 2012 Essentials, but Microsoft is killing off the Small Business Server branding and positioning Essentials as a core edition of the broad Windows Server family. Let’s dig in and learn more about this version of Windows Server.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is aimed at small and mid-size businesses. It supports up to 25 users and up to 50 devices.  The design of Essentials is that of a hybrid infrastructure. File sharing, line-of-business applications, and other things live on-premise, but Microsoft wants you to use Office 365, and Essentials can integrate and federate to Office 365 right out of the box. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t run Exchange on-premise. You can, and Essentials will integrate with your Exchange server as well, but it would have to run on separate hardware or in a separate VM (depending on how you setup your infrastructure).

Being as Essentials is the evolution of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, features such as full PC backup and restore, Remote Web Access, add-in extensibility, and network alerting live on and in some cases are even improved.

New to Windows Server 2012 Essentials are the following features:

  • Support for DirectAccess and VPN access
  • With Storage Spaces adding storage becomes painless and easy
  • Remote Web Access has been refreshed and has a new tablet mode for easier navigation on tablet devices.
  • Bare-metal backup and restore of the server
  • Support for backup of volumes larger than 2 terabytes
  • Windows 8 Metro-style app for accessing company data stored on a Windows Server 2012 Essentials server
  • Integration with cloud or on-premise Exchange services

According to Microsoft’s edition listing for Windows Server 2012 Essentials, the Open No Level pricing is $425 USD, CALs not required.

I’d strongly encourage anyone interested, to try out the public beta, which Microsoft has released.

Windows 8–Developer Resources

Thought I’d pass this list along for anyone wanting to get started with Windows 8 and Metro style.

Developer downloads

Content

URL

Details

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Download

http://bitly.com/WIN8cp

Windows 8 Consumer Preview download (web installer or ISO’s), videos, and FAQ’s.

Developer downloads for Metro style apps

http://bitly.com/metroDwnld

Visual Studio 11 Express and the Windows 8 SDK + all the extra tools and SDK’s for Metro style app development.

Design assets for Metro style apps

http://bitly.com/MetroUX

100+ Photoshop files with common controls, shell components, tiles, icons, animation clips, color wheel references, and more.

Metro style app developer content

Content

URL

Details

Windows Dev Center home

http://bitly.com/DevCtr

Links to Metro style app, Desktop app, Hardware, and IE development.

Metro style app development home

http://bitly.com/MetroCtr

Links to key resources for designing, developing, and selling Metro style apps.

Product guide for developers

http://bitly.com/PGwin8

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Developers.

Official documentation

http://bitly.com/MetroDocs

Comprehensive docs, articles, quickstarts, roadmaps, tutorials, checklists, developer agreements, and whitepapers covering all aspects of app design, development, and selling:

· Getting started

· Planning apps

· Designing UX for apps

· Developing apps

· Packaging apps

· Debugging and testing apps

· Selling apps

· API reference

· Concepts and architecture

· Language reference

· End-to-end apps

Design resources

http://bitly.com/DesignUX

Design principles, UX design patterns, detailed UX guidelines, downloadable design assets, assessing usability.

Selling apps in the  Windows Store

http://bitly.com/W8Store

Windows Store markets, developer agreements, and checklists to prepare.

Developer downloads for Metro style apps

http://bitly.com/DwnldsMetro

Visual Studio Express and the Windows 8 SDK + extra tools and SDK’s for Metro style app development.

Metro style app samples

http://bitly.com/MetroSmpls

Over 200 official samples from Microsoft are available in multiple programming languages. You can copy code inline, upload new code, rate, and leave comments.

Developer forums

http://bitly.com/MetroForums

Developer forums for Metro style apps covering designing, developing, and selling apps.

Blogs for developers

Blog Name

URL

Details

Building Windows 8 blog (B8)

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/

An inside look at how, what, and why different features of Windows 8 are being built. This blog is written by Windows President Steven Sinofsky together with members of the Windows engineering team.

Windows Store blog for developers

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore

All about doing business in the Windows Store. Members of the engineering team who’ve built the Windows Store write posts along with Antoine Leblond, Vice President of Windows Web Services.

Windows 8 app developer blog (D8)

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev

Explores best practices for coding and designing Metro style apps.  It is written by the team of developers who are building Windows 8.

IE blog

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/

Windows Internet Explorer Engineering Team Blog.

Inside Windows Live blog

http://windowsteamblog.com/
windows_live/b/windowslive/

The engineering being Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, and Windows Live.

Visual Studio Blog

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/

The official source of product insight from the Visual Studio Engineering Team.

The Windows Blog

http://windowsteamblog.com/

Consumer and general interest topics.

Test Lab Guides for Windows Server “8” Beta

Microsoft have released a series of guides to build Test Labs to check out various new features in Windows Server “8.” I’ve included a list below to some of the guides.

Test Lab Guide: Base Test Lab Guide for Windows Server “8” Beta – This Microsoft Test Lab Guide (TLG) provides you with step-by-step instructions to create the Windows Base Configuration test lab, using computers running Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Windows Server “8” Beta.

Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate High Availability Printing in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta Printing and step-by-step instructions for extending the Test Lab Guide Base Configuration to demonstrate High Availability Printing.

Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Test Lab Guide Base Configuration to demonstrate Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization.

Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate ADDS Simplified Administration in Windows Server “8” Beta – This Microsoft Test Lab Guide (TLG) introduces Active Directory Domain Services Simplified Administration and provides step-by-step demonstration of new AD DS Administration features in Windows Server “8” Beta.

Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate DirectAccess Single Server Setup with Mixed IPv4 and IPv6 in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Unified Remote Access and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Base Configuration test lab to demonstrate DirectAccess deployment in a single server deployment with a mixed environment of IPv4 and IPv6
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate DirectAccess Simplified Setup in an IPv4-only Test Environment in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta Remote Access and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Base Configuration test labto demonstrate Remote Access deployment using the Getting Started Wizard.
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Test Lab Guide Base Configuration to demonstrate Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrating DHCP Failover in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta DHCP Failover, and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Base Configuration test labto demonstrate DHCP Failover setup.
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate Virtualized Domain Controller (VDC) in Windows Server “8” Beta – This Microsoft Test Lab Guide (TLG) introduces Active Directory Domain Services Virtualized Domain Controllers and provides step-by-step demonstration of this new feature in Windows Server “8” Beta.
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate Windows Server “8” Beta Print and Document Services – Introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta Printing
Test Lab Guide: Deploying RD Licensing – Use this test lab guide to install Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) for Windows Server “8” Beta.
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate IP Address Management (IPAM) in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta IP Address Management (IPAM), and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Base Configuration test lab to demonstrate IPAM setup.
Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) in Windows Server “8” Beta – This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server “8” Beta DNSSEC and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server “8” Beta Base Configuration test lab to demonstrate DNSSEC operation.

Windows Server “8” Beta released

This morning, Microsoft announced the release of the Windows Server “8” beta. Windows Server “8” is the successor to Windows Server 2008 R2 and is a member of the Windows 8 family.

Microsoft has four pillars around the release of Windows Server “8”:

– Windows Server “8” goes beyond virtualization – With this release, Microsoft is building an infrastructure capable of running much more than a simple virtual machine. Features are being built in that enable new public and private cloud based scenarios.

– Windows Server “8” brings the power of many servers and the simplicity of one – New features are added that enable users to take better advantage of commodity storage, provide simplification to server management, and provide uptime in a better and more cost-effective manner.

– Windows Server “8” is designed for every app and every cloud – Server “8” will enable flexibility in deploying applications on-premise or in the cloud or a combination thereof using similar tools and frameworks. Windows Server “8” will be highly scalable and elastic providing for better density and efficiency, as well as providing a better platform for hosting providers.

– Windows Server “8” enables the modern workstyle – Server “8” enables enterprises to offer access to corporate data and applications on any device while providing a secure and seamless experience no matter where users are in the world.

Microsoft’s Bill Laing has a post for more on Windows Server “8” that I highly suggest reading.

If you want to download and evaluate Windows Server “8”, click here

Imagine Cup 2011–Day 1–Opening Ceremony

Imagine Cup 2011 – Day 1

Tonight in New York City, Steve Ballmer along with Jon Perera, General Manager of Microsoft Education, Arthur VanderVeen, CEO of the Office of Innovation at the New York Department of Education, Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare officially opened the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

The energy in the room was electric. The passion and the excitement from the students here is incredible. As soon as Ballmer’s name was announced the noise level in the room intensified. It was crazy.

IMG_0086Ballmer talked to the students about how they are in a business that is constantly working to change the world. He talked about the importance of the cloud and the impact it is having on the world and the students’ projects by enabling real time collaboration, commerce, and social interaction. Ballmer also talked about how devices of the future would be dynamic, faster performing, and include more sensors and do more things. Ballmer also mentioned that Natural User Interfaces would open up new possibilities and enable even more people to use computers.

IMG_0149IMG_0124To close out his remarks, Ballmer gave the students three key pieces of advice. The first is that ideas matter. When you come up with an idea make note of it. Stick with it. The second is to be passionate about what your idea and what you do. The third is to be tenacious. Don’t give up. Stick with it and see the idea through until the end.

IMG_0154Jeffrey Sachs then came to the stage and talked to the students about how the world has changed and there are many challenges that we face. These challenges range from strain on world food supplies to population growth, climate change, hunger, and others. He told students they were being given a lifetime homework assignment, and that this assignment was to find ways to better the world and to solve these tough challenges.

To close out the evening, Dennis Crowley came to the stage and talked to the students about IMG_0186sticking with their ideas and seeing them through. He talked about his experience with startups and said that Foursquare’s success is “built off of 10 years of failure.” He told students to never give up on their ideas and that even if the present wasn’t the best time for their idea, it could be a year from now, two years for now, or even ten years from now, but to be persistent and stick with it.

Tomorrow the competition begins.

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

I’ve arrived in New York City for the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup. For those of you just joining us, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is the premier student technology competition. I tend to tell people that it’s the Olympics of technology.

At the Imagine Cup, the top students from around the world come together to compete against each other in categories such as Software Design, Game Design, Embedded Development, and the Windows Phone 7 challenge just to name a few.

I’ll be here covering five teams and their progress throughout the Worldwide Finals. My teams are as follows:

The Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals begin this Friday, July 8th and end Wednesday, July 13th.

For more on Imagine Cup please visit www.imaginecup.com, or search for #ImagineCup on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter, @tziegmann, to follow along this week as well.

Microsoft Office 365: First Impressions

ofc365_h_webYesterday in New York City, Steve Ballmer announced the general availability of Microsoft Office 365.

Office 365 is the long-awaited successor to Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS). BPOS at the core was Exchange Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 in the cloud. Also included was Office Live Meeting which could be used for hosting conference calls and presentations.

Office 365 in some ways is an evolution of BPOS, but there is so much more to Office 365 that I see it as an entirely new offering. The offerings in Office 365 are much improved from a cloud services architecture standpoint I’ve included a chart below listing the differences between the two products.

Screen shot 2011-06-28 at 9.49.30 PM

With Office 365, collaboration and communication are on a whole other level. By combining Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync in a cloud solution, Microsoft has made it easy for small businesses to have access to enterprise size technologies at a reasonable price and without having to deal with any of the infrastructure, licensing, and personnel overhead.

What do I mean by enterprise size technologies? Let’s take a look.

  • Mail, Contacts, and Calendar powered by Exchange 2010
  • Instant Messaging, Live Meetings, and Audio / Video conferencing powered by Lync 2010
  • Collaborative Team Sites powered by SharePoint 2010

Best part about Office 365 though, is that they have a pricing model to fit everyone’s needs. Starts out at $2/user all the way up to $27/user based on the services provided. For small businesses and individuals, it’s only six bucks a month!

I’m currently in the process of migrating my single person Google Apps account to Office 365 and will then be migrating my personal e-mail over and then I’ll be relying entirely on the cloud. So far so good. The only hitch I have run into is that I signed up as a partner and there is a bit of a lag between account setup and when the actual licenses show up and are available to be used. Not a big deal. Other than that, I strongly recommend that users keep control of their DNS settings and manually set the appropriate Office 365 settings. I’ve seen too many comments in the Office 365 forums about inability to modify when MS Online has control.

Once I start using Office 365 on a daily basis, I’ll post more of my thoughts, but so far, it’s been pain free.

For more on Office 365, visit http://www.office365.com

If by some chance, you’re a small business in Arizona, and want to talk more about Office 365 and how it might fit in your business, send me an e-mail. tom (at) tomontech (dot) com