Microsoft Tests Two Flavors Of Windows Server - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications
05:47 PM
Don St. John
Don St. John

Microsoft Tests Two Flavors Of Windows Server

Beta tests of the next version of Windows Server include a stripped-down version, called Windows Longhorn Server Core, that loses the Windows GUI and includes only the most common server functions.

Last updated: 8/4/05

In addition to the initial beta test of the next version of Windows Server, Microsoft is also testing an early version of a stripped-down Windows Server that removes the graphical user interface and uses far less resources than the full version of the server software, according to the user instructions for the package.

The new version is presently called Microsoft Windows Server Code Name "Longhorn" Server Core (which still, for now, retains the Longhorn code name that was removed from the renamed next-generation operating system Windows Vista last week) and has been released as a closed beta test only to a limited group of Microsoft partners and other selected testers. Server Core runs from a command prompt and aims to let server administrators concentrate on a few specific server management tasks, cutting the time and management requirements for those functions. Longhorn Server Core allows management of some of the most common server configurations -- specifically, DHCP servers, file servers, DNS servers and Active Directory, according to the user instructions for the package.

The Server Core release also continues Microsoft's concentration on increased security in its server software. The Server Core installation only takes up 500 MB of disk space and thus reduces the amount of server "attack surface" that can be targeted by intruders, the company noted. Also, after Server Core is configured, the server can be managed locally and remotely from the command line, as well as remotely using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or a Terminal Server connection.

The Longhorn Server Core package is strictly stand-alone and non-upgradable, according to Microsoft; users who need other functions or who want the Windows GUI will have to install the full Windows Server package from scratch. Microsoft plans to ship the final version of both packages on the same discs as a single SKU, with the choice of whether to use Server Core or the full Windows Server made at installation by the server administrator, according to company officials. No timeline for a public beta test or a final release is yet available.

Meanwhile, the closed beta version of the full Windows Server Longhorn introduces upgrades to several functions and some new features, according to the package's instructions, including:

  • Offline Files, the client file-caching scheme that lets end users work with server-based files even if they're not connected to the server on subsequent uses; the synchronization features in Offline Files gain more flexibility and let users continue to work with open files while the file names are updated transparently.

  • Network Access Protection, a new feature that lets administrators enforce user access based on server "health" policies; specific computers can be allowed or denied access to the server, and access for cleared computers can also be based on such factors as software requirements, security update requirements, and required configuration settings.

  • TS Proxy, another new feature that enables Internet access to terminal servers through a firewall, using a port that is commonly open on most networks

  • And online certificate status revocation protocol (OCSP) responder support, which enables scalable certificate revocation checking when certificate revocation lists are not in use.

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