Microsoft Releases Remote Server Admin Tools for Windows 8 Preview

Microsoft last week released a software utility that lets IT pros manage Windows Server 2012 from their desktops.

Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for the Windows 8 release preview can be downloaded here. The catch is that this release only runs on the release preview test version of Windows 8. The final release of RSAT will occur near Microsoft's general availability release of Windows 8 on October 26, according to a Microsoft blog post.

RSAT lets IT pros use the graphical user interface-based Server Manager or the command-line-based PowerShell from their desktop PCs to remotely manage Windows Server 2012. Microsoft released an earlier version of the tool for Windows 7 in January of 2009.

The new RSAT for Windows 8 release preview seems mostly designed so far to help manage Windows Server 2012. For earlier servers, Microsoft offers a more tentative promise.

"In limited cases, the tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008," the download page explains about the new RSAT release. "Some of the tools work for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2003."

It's not clear from Microsoft's posts if those limitations will disappear by the time Window 8 is released. Microsoft provides a guide on what must be done to use the new Server Manager via RSAT to manage "down-level servers" in this blog post.

IT pros apparently need to install Windows Management Framework 3.0, which was released this week, to use the new Server Manager with older Windows operating system releases, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows 7 SP1, according to a blog post by Keith Mayer, a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He noted that some remote management features of the new Server Manager, such as cluster-aware updating, won't work for the older OSes. A list of those limitations can be found in this TechNet wiki page.

RSAT is designed to grant greater privileges to system administrators over other Windows Server users. For instance, nonadministrators can't install or remove server roles remotely, nor can they manage remote servers using different credentials. A list of permitted tasks can be found in this Microsoft TechNet library article.

The new RSAT for Windows 8 release preview supports remote management of the Server Core configuration of Windows Server 2012, which Microsoft has been recommending as the optimal approach. However, the new RSAT works "in limited cases" with Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. The idea of using the Server Core configuration is to reduce an IT shop's attack surface and potentially lessen the patching burden.

The new RSAT can be downloaded and installed for either x86 or x64 editions of Windows 8 release preview. It doesn't work on Windows RT, or Windows 8 for ARM-based machines.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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