February 19, 2009

Key features in the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Date: November 18th, 2008
  • Author: Rick Vanover

Microsoft plans to release an R2 edition of Windows Server 2008 in 2009 or 2010. Here are the key features of the R2 release that you need to know.


When Windows Server 2008 R2 is released in 2009 or 2010 (that is the current projected timeframe), there will be some important features about this release. The most prominent is that Windows Server 2008 will solely be an x64 platform with the R2 release. This will make the upgrade to x64 platforms not really a surprise, as all current server class hardware is capable of 64-bit computing. There is one last window of time to get a 2008 release of Windows still on generic brand for cialis a 32-bit platform before R2 is released, so do it now for those difficult applications that don’t seem to play well on x64 platforms.

Beyond the processor changes, here are the other important features of the R2 release of Windows Server 2008:

Hyper-V improvements: The Hyper-V is planned to offer Live Migration as an improvement to the initial release of Quick Migration; Hyper-V will measure the migration time in milliseconds. This will be a solid point in the case for Hyper-V compared to VMware’s ESX or other hypervisor platforms. Hyper-V will also include support for additional processors and Second Level Translation (SLAT).

PowerShell 2.0: PowerShell 2.0 has been out in a beta release and Customer Technology Preview capacity, but it will be fully baked into Windows Server 2008 R2 upon its release. PowerShell 2.0 includes over 240 new commands, as well as a graphical user interface. Further, PowerShell will be able to be installed on Windows Server Core.

Core Parking: This feature of Windows Server 2008 will constantly assess the amount of processing across systems with multiple cores, and under certain configurations, suspend new work being sent to the cores. Then with the core idle, it can be sent to a sleep mode and reduce the overall power consumption of the system.

All of these new features will be welcome and add great functionality to the Windows Server admin. The removal of x86 support is not entirely a surprise, but the process needs to be set in motion now for how to address any legacy applications.

Permalink • Print • Comment

February 5, 2009

How do I… configure Windows Home Server for remote access?

  • Date: September 30th, 2008
  • Author: Steven Warren

There has been a lot of discussion on Microsoft Windows Home Server and its merits on TechRepublic lately. One of my favorite features of Windows Home Server is the ability to securely connect to your machines remotely. In this tutorial, we will show you how to configure this feature in Windows Home Server.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

We will begin by opening the Windows Home Server Console from the Desktop and clicking Settings to open the window shown in Figure A.

Figure A

cialis cheapest price align=”justify”>These are the Windows Home Server Settings.

Next, click on Remote Access and select Turn On Web Site Connectivity, as shown in  Figure B.

Figure B

Turn on Web Site Connectivity in Windows Home Server.

Now that the Web Site Connectivity is turned on, three ports are open on the Windows Home Server firewall. They are the following: port 80, port 443, and port 4125. These ports are opened so that your Windows Home Server can accept incoming requests from the Internet.

Port 80 will accept Web requests, port 443 is for SSL requests (of course), and port 4125 is for remote desktop proxy requests.

Now your Windows Home Server will perform tests (Figure C) to see if it can automatically configure your router using Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) architecture. Please make sure UPnP is enabled on your router in order for it to be successful. Most routers today have this turned on by default (Figure D).

Figure C

Perform router testing for Remote Access.

Figure D

Router testing is in progress.

My initial test shows that the router is not configured for remote access (Figure E). Click the Configure Router button to configure your router automatically using UPnP.

Figure E

Router is not configured for Remote Access.

Once you click the Configure Router button, you will be prompted with the dialog box shown in Figure F. Click Yes.

Figure F

Configure port forwarding.

Once the configuration is complete, another check takes place (Figure G) and green checks throughout indicate a proper configuration.

Figure G

Router has passed tests and is properly configured.

We can now move on to configuring a domain name for our Windows Home Server. Click Setup under the Domain Name box (Figure H), and a wizard will walk you through creating a Windows Home Server domain name.

Figure H

Click Setup to configure a domain name in Windows Home Server.

The first window you are presented with is the Welcome splash screen (Figure I), which prompts you to sign in with your Windows Live ID. At this point, you can create a Domain name such as Lastname.homeserver.com or whatever suits you (Figure J).

Figure K shows a properly configured domain name.

Note: With Windows Home Server, you are getting a free SSL certificate. This is a great plus when using Windows Home Server.

Figure I

The Welcome splash screen appears.

Figure J

Secure access to Windows Home Server.

Figure K

The domain name is working.

Important note: If your router does not support UPnP or pass the tests, you will need to manually forward the following TCP ports from your router to the IP address of your Windows Home Server. Again, these ports are 80, 443, and 4125.

The best way to test the configuration is to use a wireless mobile card or modem connection or simply go to your buddy’s house and connect to his network. Of course, if all else fails, you can test from your internal network as well.

Once you are connected to a network other than your own, open up the browser of your choice and type in the Web address (URL) to your Windows Home Server. Take for example, https://stevejobs.homeserver.com. You will see your login page, as shown in Figure L.

Figure L

The Windows Home Server login page appears.

Next, click Log On (Figure M) and enter your credentials. You can also test this internally from your network. It is OK to test both inside and outside your network. I would rather know it works so when I am traveling, I have no connectivity issues.

Figure M

Enter your login credentials.

As you can see, you now have access to your Windows Home Server (Figure N). You can remotely access your computers and the shared folders you created. You also have the ability to upload pictures and files by using drag and drop. It is actually a great product once you have everything completely configured.

Figure N

You can now access your files.

Let’s now walk through connecting to a computer remotely. First, click on the Computers tab, and all your computers that are available for connection will be listed, as shown in Figure O. Simply click on the computer name to connect to that computer; it is that simple.

Figure O

These computers are available for connection.

Finally, if you click on the Shared Folders tab (Figure P), you can see all your folders that allow you to download and upload information. Once you are finished with your remote use, you can log off.

Figure P

Access your Shared Folders in Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server is a very innovative product that enables the average home user to easily manage the arduous task of backing up computers and files from multiple computers. It also allows you to easily access your computers and files remotely. In this tutorial we have shown you how to configure remote access to a Windows Home Server for your home network.

Permalink • Print • Comment

10 surprising things about Windows Server 2008

  • Date: September 4th, 2008
  • Author: Justin James

When you take a look at Windows Server 2008, you’ll discover big changes — including some legitimate improvements.  Justin James outlines a few of the unexpected aspects of the new OS, both good and bad.

cialis 20 mg tablets align=”justify”>

Windows Server 2003 felt like a refresh of Windows Server 2000. There were few radical changes, and most of the improvements were fairly under the surface. Windows Server 2008, on the other hand, is a full-size helping of “new and improved.” While the overall package is quite good, there are a few surprises, “gotchas,” and hidden delights you will want to know about before deciding if you will be moving to Windows Server 2008 any time soon.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: The 64-bit revolution is not complete

There have been 64-bit editions of Windows Server for years now, and Microsoft has made it quite clear that it wants all of its customers to move to 64-bit operating systems. That does not mean that you can throw away your 32-bit Windows Server 2008 CD, though! Over the last few months, I have been shocked on more than one occasion by the pieces of Microsoft software that not only do not have 64-bit versions, but will not run under a 64-bit OS at all. This list includes Team Foundation Server and ISA Server. If you are planning on moving to 64-bit Windows Server 2008, be prepared to have a 32-bit server or two around, whether it be on physical hardware or in a VM.

#2: Who moved my cheese?

While the UI changes in Windows Server 2008 are not nearly as sweeping as the Aero interface in Vista, it has undergone a dramatic rearrangement and renaming of the various applets around the system. In retrospect, the organization of these items is much more sensible, but that hardly matters when you have years of experience going to a particular area to find something, only to have it suddenly change. Expect to be a bit frustrated in the Control Panel until you get used to it.

#3: Windows Workstation 2008 might catch on

In an odd turn of events, Microsoft has provided the ability to bring the “Vista Desktop Experience” into Windows Server 2008. I doubt that many server administrators were asking for this, but the unusual result is that a number of people are modifying Windows Server 2008 to be as close to a desktop OS as possible. There have always been a few people who use the server edition of Windows as a desktop, but this makes it much easier and friendlier. These home-brewed efforts are generally called “Windows Workstation 2008,” in case you’re interested in trying it out on your own.

#4: Hyper-V is good, but…

Hyper-V was one of the most anticipated features of Windows Server 2008, and it’s surprisingly good, particularly for a version 1 release from Microsoft. It is stable, easy to install and configure, and does not seem to have any major problems. For those of us who have been beaten into the “wait until the third version” or “don’t install until SP1″ mentality, this is a refreshing surprise.

#5: …Hyper-V is limited

Hyper-V, while of high quality, is sorely lacking features. Considering that it was billed as a real alternative to VMWare and other existing solutions, it is a disappointment (to say the least) that it does not seem to include any utilities for importing VMs from products other than Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Even those imports are not workaround-free. Another real surprise here is the lack of a physical-to-virtual conversion utility. Hyper-V may be a good system, but make sure that you fully try it out before you commit to using it.

#6: NT 4 domain migration — it’s not happening

If you have been putting off the painful migration from your NT 4 domain until Windows Server 2008 was released, don’t keep waiting. The older version (3.0) Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) supports migrations from NT 4, but not to Windows Server 2008. The latest version (3.1) support migrations to Windows Server 2008, but not from NT 4. Either migrate from NT 4 before changing your domain to be a Windows 2008 domain or get your NT 4 domain upgraded first.

#7: The ashtrays are now optional

In prior versions of Windows Server, a lot of applications came installed by default. No one ever uninstalled them because they did not cause any harm, even if you didn’t use them or installed an alternative. Now, even the “throwaway” applications, like Windows Backup, are not installed by default. After installation, you need to add “features” to get the full Windows Server suite of applications. This can be frustrating if you are in a hurry, but the reduced clutter and resource overhead are worth it.

#8: Licensing is bewildering

Continuing a hallowed Microsoft tradition, trying to understand the licensing terms of Windows Server 2008 feels like hammering nails with your forehead. So maybe this isn’t so much a surprise as a gotcha. The Standard Edition makes sense, but when you get into the issues around virtualization in Enterprise and Datacenter Editions, things can be a bit confusing. Depending upon your need for virtual machines and the number of physical CPUs (not CPU cores, thankfully) in your server, Enterprise Edition may be cheaper — or it may be more expensive than Datacenter Edition. One thing to keep in mind is that once you start using virtual machines, you start to like them a lot more that you thought you would. It’s easy to find yourself using a lot more of them than originally expected.

#9: There’s no bloat

Maybe it’s because Vista set expectations of pain, or because hardware has gotten so much cheaper, but Windows Server 2008 does not feel bloated or slow at all. Microsoft has done a pretty good job at minimizing the installed feature set to the bare minimum, and Server Core can take that even further. Depending upon your needs, it can be quite possible to upgrade even older equipment to Windows Server 2008 without needing to beef up the hardware.

#10: Quality beats expectations

Microsoft customers have developed low expectations of quality over the years, unfortunately, with good reason. While its track record for initial releases, in terms of security holes and bug counts, seems to be improving customers are still howling about Vista. As a result, it has come as a real surprise that the overall reaction to Windows Server 2008 has been muted, to say the least. The horror stories just are not flying around like they were with Vista. Maybe it’s the extra year they spent working on it, or different expectations of the people who work with servers, but Windows Server 2008 has had a pretty warm reception so far. And that speaks a lot to its quality. There is nothing particularly flashy or standout about it. But at the same time, it is a solid, high quality product. And that is exactly what system administrators need.

Permalink • Print • Comment

Windows Home Server – Real-life scenario

  • Date: September 14th, 2008
  • Author: Scott Lowe

Windows Home Server is a great addition to many home networks.  Scott Lowe gives you a peek at his home network–based on WHS–and how he uses it. 


Steven Warren has written a couple of times recently explaining how to get Windows Home Server cialis 20 mg dosage running under VMware and polling the TechRepublic crowd about their interest in Windows Home Server.  I’ve been running Windows Home Server for just under a year now and thought I’d take a little time to explain my setup in detail and explain why I use this product when I could also simply build a Linux server to do many of the things handled by WHS.

My setup

Late last year, I bought an HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server for a project I was working on.  Prior to buying the MediaSmart system, I had built a custom system with an evaluation copy of Windows Home Server provided by Microsoft, and gave it up in favor of the HP server.  The HP MediaSmart systems ship with a paltry 512MB of RAM, but, with a little know-how, it’s not all that hard to upgrade to 2GB of RAM, which is almost a must.  Frankly, HP will probably have to address the RAM issue at some point and give customers the option of easily expanding the RAM without voiding the warranty.    The EX470 ships with a single 500GB hard drive.  In order to enjoy the full benefit of Windows Home Server, you really need multiple hard drives.  Since installing my server, I’ve added three more 500GB drives for a total of 2TB capacity.  While that sounds like a ton of space, due to the way that WHS uses disk space, it’s actually less than it sounds like.  This is not meant to be a negative point… just fact.

The MediaSmart server includes a gigabit Ethernet port and I’ve connected it, as well as my two primary workstations, to a gigabit Ethernet switch.  I also use a wireless-N network at home to connect my wife’s Windows desktop computer and my MacBook to the network.  I run VMware Fusion on my MacBook so I can run Windows programs.

How I use WHS 

I save almost everything to my Windows Home Server.  I write a lot, so all of my work is stored there, as is my iTunes library, backups of my DVDs and a lot more.  All of the computers in my house are automatically backed up to my server, too.  I have personally used WHS’ client restoration capability to restore a client computer and it’s an absolutely fantastic and surprisingly easy to use procedure.

Although WHS Power Pack 1 now includes the ability to backup the Windows Home Server to an external hard drive, a feature that was missing from the OEM release, I’ve opted to use Windows Home Server Gold Plan ($199/year, but right now, $99/year special) to automatically back up mu Windows Home Server to KeepVault’s servers.  I’ve been using KeepVault for almost a year now and am very pleased. The only disadvantage to this method is that KeepVault won’t back up files that are larger than 5GB in size, but KeepVault provides unlimited storage space.  The only files I have that are larger than 5GB in size are generally ISO files and virtual machine images and, if I so desired, I could take steps to protect even these files.  However, for performance reasons, I don’t run my virtual machines from my server anyway, although I would give it a shot if WHS included a good way to handle iSCSI.

With the Power Pack 1 release, WHS is finally ready for prime time.  Prior to this release, WHS suffered from a serious data corruption bug which, unfortunately, I feel victim to.  The resulting damage was more of an annoyance as I had to work around it, but as I said, PP1 fixes this issue and adds some additional capability.

Windows Home Server includes very good remote access capability, too.  When I’m on the road for business, I don’t have to try to remember exactly which files I need to take with me.  If I forget something, I can just browse to my server and get the file.  Configuring this capability is a breeze, too, as long as you have a router that supports uPnP, which I do.  Otherwise, it would take manual router configuration, making WHS less than desirable for the average home user.

Could I have replicated this functionality with Linux, other open source products and some scripts?  Sure.  Would it have worked.  Well, probably not as seamlessly.  Even something like WHS is a tool for me and I’ve gotten to a point where I just need stuff to work so that I can focus on getting a job done.  My WHS system protects my files at two levels-locally in the event of a client failure, and remotely in the event of a server failure-and gives me an easy way to get to my information if necessary.

Although the market need is still somewhat questionable, WHS is aimed at users that lack the technical expertise to build computers from scratch or that want to focus on the end result of the product-a working, stable server.  For those that enjoy the thrill of building something from scratch, WHS is probably not for you.  For me, however, it’s a perfect complement to my clients and perfectly fits my work style.

Permalink • Print • Comment

Installing a simple Web server on Windows Server 2008 from a script

  • Date: September 23rd, 2008
  • Author: Rick Vanover

While there are more advanced Web server configurations, many products require the IIS Web engine as a prerequisite. Here’s how to install a simple IIS Web server through a scripted role.


You can usually add features through the Windows Server 2008 Server Manager snap-in via a script. In the case of IIS 7.0, there are many options available for the cialis 20 mg cost feature install.

One way to ensure a consistent configuration for applications that require IIS (e.g., SQL Server) is to use a scripted installation. For IIS, the package manager can install the features locally. To install a basic IIS configuration, run the following script:

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-WebServerRole;IIS-WebServerManagementTools; IIS-ManagementService;IIS-Metabase;WAS-WindowsActivationService; WAS-ProcessModel;WAS-NetFxEnvironment;WAS-ConfigurationAPI

The command provides little interaction and, by default, does not provide feedback of any type if an incorrect parameter is passed after the /iu parameter. Figure A shows IIS being added via the script.

Figure A

Figure A

Once the scripted task completes after a minute or so, and the Window Server 2008 Server Manager snap-in performs its next refresh, the Web server is listed as a role on the system and is running. Figure B shows an updated Server Manager snap-in with this basic IIS role.

Figure B

Figure B

Using this scripted install of IIS is a good way to ensure consistent server build configurations, and other Windows features can be automated through the package manager (pkgmgr). The package manager can also uninstall packages, which may be helpful for temporarily enabling a feature for a specified amount of time and for removing the feature from a scheduled task to ensure its decommissioning.

For more information on the package manager, read the TechNet article Package Manager Command-Line Options.

Permalink • Print • Comment
Next Page »
Made with WordPress and the Semiologic theme and CMS • Sky Gold skin by Denis de Bernardy