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Windows Server 2008: What's in it for users?

Windows Server 2008 has some features users should know about, from power management and Linux-like scripting features to roadblocks for Hyper-V.

With the release of Windows Server 2008 on Feb. 27, we wanted to know what the system's new features mean for users. Here are some of the key changes that data center managers should know about, and we explored the new Microsoft release from the vantage point of neccessary additional hardware requirements, how Windows Server 2008 stacks up against Linux, and the vendor-support roadblocks for Microsoft's virtualization offering Hyper-V. While Windows Server 2008 may have earned rights to hype with features like PowerShell and Server Core, some roadblocks to adoption and acceptance seem persistent.

I. Hardware requirements: To upgrade or not to upgrade?
II. Open source-like features: Is Windows Server 2008 more Linux-like?
III. Power management: Automation in Windows Server 2008
IV. Server virtualization: Hyper-V's dearth of support

I. Hardware requirements: To upgrade or not to upgrade?
Will Windows Server 2008 create an added burden in the form of additional hardware requirements -- and expense -- for users? In the near term, the answer is not necessarily, with features like Server Core that can stave off new hardware purchases. With Server Core, users can employ "roles," and install scaled-down versions of the OS on individual machines. In this way, Server Core may help preserve server capacity and extend the life of existing hardware.

But in the longer term, data center managers and IT admins should take note: Windows Server 2008 signals the end of the line for 32-bit, as 64-bit processing becomes increasingly mainstream and a requirement for future Windows offerings. According to Michael Cherry, an expert at Directions on Microsoft, Windows Server 2008 has essentially upped the ante for hardware requirements.

II. Is Windows Server 2008 more Linux-like?
With Novell/Microsoft partnership in November 2006, the market received a signal that Microsoft might finally bow to the open source wave. Earlier this year, one Linux observer argued that Linux had indeed nudged Windows Server 2008 along in the area of security enhancements. So has Windows Server 2008 become more Linux-like than its predecessors?

Well, yes and no. In truth, Windows Server 2008 will never match Linux in the eyes of open source devotees. But Server Core and PowerShell may help Microsoft close the gap and further undercut Linux devotees' notion that Windows Server 2008 offerings don't suit Linux users' needs: The first is Server Core, and the other is PowerShell, a script that automates management tasks.With PowerShell, Linux types have scripting capabilities and a system to rival their beloved favorite.

III. Power management: Automation in Windows Server 2008
According to research firm Gartner Inc., data center managers needn't rush to adopt Microsoft Windows Server 2008. As Gartner analyst John Enck put it, "If you're already on Windows Server 2003, eh, take your time." But that's not to say that Windows Server 2008 doesn't include important power management features, such as a throttle-down feature for Windows servers that's turned on by default.. Indeed, recently included in its predictions for 2008 that users who seek additional management capabilities and greater flexilibility will be able to exploit the new functionality in Windows Server 2008.

For additional resources, check out our piece on PowerShell's basics and top commands as well as the scripting tutorials available on our sister site,

IV. Server virtualization: Hyper-V and support
With all the hype concerning Hyper-V and its potential to rival VMware Inc.'s ESX Server, how has the virtualization landscape reacted to the release? Not with immediate action. Virtualization players such as VMware, Citrix Systems Inc. and Parallels/SWsoft won't support Microsoft's virutalization technology right away. (For further discussion of the architecture of Hyper-V and Hyper-V system requirements, see Anil Desai's pieces on

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Alex Barrett is the news director for Write to her at Bridget Botelho is a news writer for Write to her at Pam Derringer is a news writer for Write to her at Mark Fontecchio is a news writer for Write to him at Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Write to her at Matt Stansberry is the senior site editor of Write to him at

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