Windows Server 2012

 

 

Windows Server 2012
So I have been working with Windows Server 2012 for a while now and this post is way over due. There are MANY new feature in Windows 2012. If I didn't have a day job maybe I could get to them all and write about them, but that is asking to much so I will sum up my experience with the features I have found a use for in my lab. While I have not been in love with the lack of a Start Menu on the 2012 RTM or Windows 8 I have found features I like and others I don't like:
First What I don't Like:

TMG 2010 (Threat Management Gateway): cannot be installed on 2012, will not be made compatible and is being put out to pasture. Microsoft has said the replacement are features like Direct Access and Dynamic Access Control, improved security in web services and use of UAG (if you got the bucks to get it). This has left many of us scrambling to find a replacement that couples SSO, Windows Authentication, rules based Proxy and all the other features TMG offered us.  I liked the idea that I could put it in between my lan and the world and control what was accesses all the way down to the URL by user and it was affordable! But enough rant on the TMG issue only thing to say is you will be missed TMG and you may have to pry my TMG box out of my cold, dead hands. 
Start Menu: On tablet devices I could see maybe getting rid of it but it was not the smartest move. That being said there are options out ther like Classic Shell that can replace it. I was glad to see a step back in 2012 R2/8 SP1. Now that is is semi-back in R2 I have started to appreciate some of the features if it. We will get into that later.
Server Manager: While there are things to like in the new Server Manager, like managing multiple servers in it (Server Groups), I preferred the look and feel of the old server manager.

Now some features I like!
Hyper-V:

  • Virtual Fibre Channel Storage: guest operating systems having direct access to fibre channel storage via the fiber Channel Virtual SAN Manager.
  • SCSI Boot drives in your guest operating system
  • Better Linux OS support
  • Dynamic Memory works better
  • Live Migrations

Server Manager: Before I said I prefer the lold feel of Server Manager but there are features I like

  • Server Groups
  • Dashboard

AD

  • Improved account recovery through recycling bin
  • Cloning Domain Controllers that are Virtual Machines 

File Storage

  • Data Deduplication built in: There is a noticeable difference in the amount of storage used because of this feature.
  • Better File and folder management tools
  • Work Folders

Start Menu: I know I said I don't like it, RTM I hate the start menu (or lack there of) R2 is growing on me. So in R2 I like:

  • Right click/Hold and release (touch Screen) menu has a lot of the features I was missing and is easy enough to get to including Network Connections that became more dificult in Vista/7/2008/2008 R2/2012 RTM. This takes a step back and puts it in a easy to access location without going through the Network and Sharing Center.
  • Start Menu Search: just click the start menu and start to tye what you want. I like it better,
  • If you are using a touch screen (or RDP in from a touch screen enabled device) it is easier to navigate the menu and actually tap what you want.
     

Overall I give Windows 2012 / R2 a thumbs up especially with the reintroduction of the start menu in R2.

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