In this R2 wave of Windows Server products, Microsoft is taking the time to update its “first server” version, Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
The Essentials SKU historically has been intended to be the entry level server for a small or midsize business. With Essentials R2, Microsoft is extending this feature set into the enterprise. Because the Essentials feature set is now an available role in the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, companies with more than 25 users can backup their PCs, seamless integrate with cloud services or on-premise Exchange servers, and provide remote access to company data.
Besides the Essentials features now being available as a role, there are number of additional new features.
- Full PC Restore over the network is now supported
- Mobile Devices can be managed in the dashboard using Exchange ActiveSync
- Quotas can be set on shared folders in the dashboard
- The client connector can trigger a VPN connection so clients can always be connected to the network
- Now supported as a member server in a domain
- Health monitoring and reporting is now built-in
- Remote Web Access theme now follows in the style of SkyDrive
What I like about this release is that its the small things that really make it all come together. There is now an option in configuring the remote access website to allow direct RDP access to the server or only access to the dashboard. PXE boot restores of client computers is awesome and is something I’ve been asking for since the Windows Home Server days. The dashboard now lets customers integrate with Office 365, Windows Intune, and Windows Azure Backup. BranchCache is now supported as well. If a company has multiple servers, the connector will now let users switch between them.
These are just a few of the many examples of what Microsoft has brought to the R2 release of Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be posting some tours of the new functionality.
If you’ve been keeping up with Microsoft related news, you’ve probably heard that Microsoft announced new features in Windows Azure, announced Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2014. For many of these products, they are here less than a year after their predecessors. This is a huge accomplishment for Microsoft.
According to a blog post published by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Windows Server and System Center, Microsoft is able to do this because they are building for the cloud first.
By building for the cloud first, Microsoft says that they are able to do couple things:
- Battle harden what is built. By deploying in Windows Azure first, Microsoft can ensure that they are delivering a solid product both in the cloud and on-premise.
- Unify the planning and delivery across multiple products. With this wave of releases, Microsoft has brought together Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Windows Azure, and Windows Intune.
What this means for you as a Microsoft customer is that scenarios are being designed for better integration end-to-end, using real world feedback from people like you and I, and validated in the Windows Azure cloud.
It’s an exciting and interesting time for both Microsoft and its customers. I’m encouraged by the products I’m seeing and the scenarios that are being unlocked.
Today, Samsung have released drivers and guidance for installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview on their Series 7 Slate.
Included are firmware and driver update directions, system backup dirextions, an updated driver for the rotation sensor, and updated firmware for the touch screen.
All information can be found at http://www.samsung.com/global/windowspreview/
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.
In the interest of speed, here are the download links for Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server “8” Beta.
5MB ESD Download link – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download
Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISOs – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso
Today at an event in Barcelona, Spain at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft have announced the availability of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
The consumer preview builds on the developer preview that was released last year during Microsoft’s Build conference. While the previous release was aimed at being mostly an API complete release, today’s release is about consumers and the features consumers will be using within Windows 8.
I don’t yet have an exhaustive list of what’s included in the Consumer Preview, but I wanted to touch on some of the key themes involved with Windows 8:
Metro-style interface – Continuing with the design experience as introduced with Windows Phone, Microsoft is bringing Metro to the desktop with Windows 8. This is huge. Microsoft is give Windows a radical facelift and this doesn’t even begin to include the improvements to the Windows desktop.
Touch-centric interaction – Windows 8 is designed to be touch-centric. What this means is that Microsoft is intending for touch to be the primary interaction, but they haven’t forgotten about mouse and keyboard users either. The Consumer Preview is expected to contain many improvements for mouse and keyboard users.
App Stores are all the rage – Following in the steps of the Windows Phone Marketplace as well as Apple’s Mac App Store and the Android Market, Microsoft is introducing the Windows App Store. The App Store will be used for distributing new Metro-style Apps as well as a listing service for Desktop apps.
A key word that Microsoft has used over and over again is “reimagined.” Windows 8 is exactly that. Reimagined.
For more about Windows 8 or to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, visit http://preview.windows.com