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Improvements and Additions to Windows Server 2008

A number of improvements and additions have been made to Windows Server 2008. As already mentioned, Windows Server 2008 shares some of the look and feel provided by Windows Vista. Windows Server 2008 also supplies a number of new tools; one of the most dramatic of these new tools in terms of managing a Windows server is the Server Manager.

In Windows Server 2003, a number of the administrative tools ran as snap-ins in the MMC. As you added a role to the server, such as DNS or DHCP, a new snap-in would be available. The new Server Manager provides easy access to nearly all the configuration, monitoring, and troubleshooting snap-ins that you will need to use as you manage your Windows server (see Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2. The Server Manager provides quick access to your server management tools.

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The Server Manager not only provides quick access to many of the management snap-ins, but it also includes quick access to the Add New Roles Wizard and enables you to view the services that are installed and running in association with a particular server role. The Server Manager is introduced in Hour 3, “Configuring Windows Server 2008 Basic Settings,” and is used extensively throughout the book to manage the various roles provided by Windows Server 2008.

Another important change to Windows Server 2008 is how it approaches installing new roles and services on a server. When you boot the server, Windows Server 2008 loads the Initial Configuration Tasks window. This utility enables you to view the roles that are currently installed on the server and also provides easy access to settings such as the time zone, the computer name and domain membership, automatic updates, and the server’s network interfaces.

More importantly, both the Initial Configuration Tasks window (and the Server Manager) provide quick access to the Add Roles Wizard. The Add Roles Wizard (see Figure 1.3) not only makes it easy for you to install a new role such as the domain controller role, DNS role, or the Active Directory Certificate Services role, it also makes sure that you install all the necessary services required for that role to function appropriately.

Figure 1.3. The Add Roles Wizard enables you to add roles and also helps to make sure that required services for the role are installed.

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For example, if you are installing the Certification Authority Web Enrollment service (a web interface where users can request and renew certificates) as part of the Active Directory Certificate Services (a server role), the Add Roles Wizard alerts you to the fact that this service requires IIS7 and that it will be installed during the process of adding the role to your server.

Another improvement provided by Windows Server 2008 is that you can now deploy read-only domain controllers. This enables you to deploy a domain controller in a less secure environment such as a branch office. Read-only domain controllers contain a read-only copy of the Active Directory, which provides much more security in these environments.

Windows Server 2008 also enables you to perform a core installation of the network operating system. A core installation is a minimal or stripped-down installation of Windows Server 2008 that is managed from the command line (the Windows GUI interface is not installed) and can supply certain services and server roles to the client computers on your network. A core installation can provide services such as print services and file services. A server with a core installation can also function in roles such as a DHCP server and DNS server (Windows Server 2008 installations are discussed in Hour 2, “Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008”).

In Windows Server 2003, a number of new command-line tools were added, such as DiskPart (a disk partitioning tool) and the dfscmd Distributed File System utility that enables you to create DFS roots from the command line. Windows Server 2008 takes the command-line utility one step further with the Windows PowerShell (also available in Windows Vista), which provides a powerful set of command-line tools (called cmdlets) and a full-fledged scripting language. PowerShell (see Figure 1.4) is added to Windows Server 2008 as a feature, and although it is not covered in this book (we concentrate on the snap-ins that run in the Server Manager and the MMC), it provides you with an alternative to the various snap-ins and other GUI tools provided by the network operating system.

Figure 1.4. PowerShell is a new command-line and scripting tool.

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Windows Server 2008 also makes the management of printers and print servers easier in your domain. The new Print Management snap-in (see Figure 1.5) enables you to view print servers and the printers that they provide for the domain. You can even locate (using filters) printers that currently have print jobs and printers that are not ready (meaning paused or offline).

Figure 1.5. The Print Management snap-in.

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The discussion here only scratches the surface of new features found in and the improvements made to the Windows Server 2008 platform. The lists that follow provide a quick look at some of the most important new features and the improvements found in the Windows Server 2008 network operating system platform.

New features:

Improved features:

We will be working with a number of the new features and improvements found in the Windows Server 2008 operating system. These features are discussed throughout the book in the context of the appropriate subject matter.

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