August 15, 2012, 10:09 AM — The release of Windows Server 2012 is just around the corner, with the initial code due to be sent to manufacturing this month and general availability coming in September.
If you've been on the sidelines during the beta and the release preview stages, you may now be wondering what features and capabilities have made it to the final version. Here's a brief look at 10 features and changes that rank among the most significant in the latest edition of Microsoft's flagship server operating system.
Slideshow: Windows Server 2012 Highlights
1. New Server Manager: Create, Manage Server Groups
One of the benefits of the newServer Manager interface is the capability to create server groups, which are collections of servers that already exist on your network and can be managed through the new user experience. Creating new server groups lets you manage tasks among each server with common attributes--a server group containing all machines running IIS, for example, a group of all database servers, and so on--and provide specific information on any of them as you wish. This is a big boon for organizations without dedicated monitoring software in place.
2. Better Edition, SKU Selection
Kudos to Microsoft for cleaning up what was a muddy value proposition. The core OS is now the same, and the edition you buy--Standard or Datacenter--depends on whether you want to run up to two virtual machines as guests or if you'd like unlimited guest virtualization. There's no Enterprise edition gumming up the works. This is a big win for everyone.
3. A Command-Line First, GUI-Second Mentality
The emphasis for Windows Server has changed from a GUI-first philosophy to a GUI-optional mindset. Indeed, when you first install the OS, youre asked to choose between a core and a full installation. Core is the preferred, and encouraged, option. Once you install a core version of Windows Server 2012, you can flip on a GUI simply by installing the GUI role, and you can then opt to take it off without a full reinstall.
This is a great feature when you first deploy a server. You can use the GUI to take care of all of the mundane configuration tasks, but when the machine is ready for production, you can flip the GUI off and deploy. This offers a number of benefits, including reducing the attack surface, resource load and energy requirements.
4. Hyper-V Replication