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Microsoft To Enable .NET Framework 4 on Windows Server Core

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it plans to enable its .NET Framework 4 on Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

However, those wanting .NET Framework 4 capabilities on Server Core will have to wait a little while. The capability will be available sometime in the first quarter of this year, according to Microsoft's announcement. In addition, this capability will require installing SP1 of Windows Server 2008 R2, which Microsoft coincidentally plans to release in Q1 2011.

Currently, the first service pack for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is available publicly as a release candidate test version.

Server Core is a minimal installation of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 that runs with fewer components. It's not available on earlier Windows Server releases. IT pros typically might deploy Server Core to reduce an organization's attack surface because Server Core deployments limit the number of server roles in an installation.

The server roles available in Server Core depend on which release of Windows Server 2008 is run. For the R2 release, Server Core supports the following server roles, according to this Microsoft TechNet library article:

  • "Active Directory Certificate Services
  • "Active Directory Domain Services
  • "Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
  • "DHCP Server
  • "DNS Server
  • "File Services (including File Server Resource Manager)
  • "Hyper-V
  • "Print and Document Services
  • "Streaming Media Services
  • "Web Server (including a subset of ASP.NET)"

In addition, the server roles supported by Server Core are edition specific. For instance, the BranchCache hosted cache server role is supported in the Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2008 R2, but not in the Standard edition, according to Microsoft's edition comparison table.

In any case, the addition of .NET Framework 4 capabilities in Server Core installations will help developers build applications using various Microsoft technologies and tap into services.

"Like in .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.5, with .NET Framework 4, you will be able to build and run managed applications that use ASP.NET, WCF, WF, Windows Services and Console Applications," Microsoft's announcement explained.

It looks like Microsoft is specifically calling out the Windows Server 2008 R2 release as having the capability to run .NET Framework 4 on Server Core -- even though Windows Server 2008 is also capable of running as a Server Core installation.

Enabling .NET 4 on Server Core represents a technical milestone for Microsoft of sorts, according to a Microsoft forum thread. In a May 21 post on that thread, Rabi Satter of Microsoft explained that "supporting Server Core is very challenging for .NET."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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