Top 10 Overlooked Features of Windows Server 2008, Part 1

Windows Server 2008 is on its way. With the first release candidate in the pipeline, it shouldn't be long before release to manufacturing and general availability.

Windows Server 2008 is on its way. With the first release candidate in the pipeline, it shouldn't be long before release to manufacturing and general availability.

With such a long development time (it's the first new Windows Server OS since 2003,) the showstopping new features have been well publicized: Most IT pros are familiar with at least some of the details of Server Core, PowerShell and Windows Server Virtualization (codenamed Viridian). But Windows 2008 includes a lot more than those headliners.

To that end, we're presenting the Top 10 overlooked features of Windows 2008. We spoke with Ward Ralston, senior technical product manager for Windows Server, to help us build our list. These items haven't garnered the same kind of press attention, hype and word-of-mouth as the others, but they're nonetheless important -- maybe very important -- to your network. Today we'll present the first five; on Monday we'll present the second five. (Ed's note: The second part of this list has now been published here).

10. The Print Management Console (PMC). This was originally released with Windows Server 2003 R2. But unlike the R2 release, it's a native function in Windows 2008, and available to everyone. PMC is a snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), which lets an admin see every printer in an entire organization, from one console. In addition, you can use Group Policy to map printers to specific user groups, so that the Accounting folks won't be hogging printers that Engineering needs.

9. Auditpol. This is a verbose logging tool that allows you to configure, create, back up and restore audit policies on any computer in your organization. In these days of regulatory compliance, auditing is more important than ever, and Auditpol may eliminate the need for a third-party auditing program. It includes a greatly expanded list of auditing counters from the simple tools available in Windows 2003, and hundreds of different categories that let you "create a paper trail of what's going on inside your OS," Ralston says.

8. Windows Remote Shell (WinRS). To connect to a command prompt on a remote computer in Windows 2003, an admin needed to use Terminal Services. TS worked well but wasn't scalable, requiring a connection to a console on each remote computer. WinRS makes secure connections to as many remote computers as necessary, all from a single console. That could be a significant time-saver for admins.

7. Event forwarding. This benefit is available to organizations that run Vista on their desktops. Event forwarding aggregates and forwards logs of chosen computers back to a central console, making management much more efficient. Say you're an admin and you start getting calls from users who are seeing the dreaded "Event 51" pop up on their screens, indicating a logon problem. Instead of employing sneakernet technology -- running from machine to machine to comb through security events or other problems -- you simply "subscribe" Vista computers through your console, and they send whatever information you ask for right to your door.

6. Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS). In Windows 2003, this was known as Windows Rights Management Services. It was available in Windows 2003, but only as an add-on product for purchase. It's built into Windows 2008, and includes some upgrades. AD RMS assists in the creation of rights-protected files, licensing rights-protected information, and checking to make sure that only authorized users have access to rights-protected data. Some of the enhancements for Windows 2008 include the ability to administer AD RMS through the MMC, and delegate AD RMS tasks through "administrative roles."

Click here to read part 2 of this list.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.


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