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Windows Server 2008: Less Is More

IT departments are conservative by nature, and with good reason. Change for change's sake just adds more trouble to the endless supply of troubles that IT departments have to manage. The new Windows Server 2008 has the potential to remove some of that trouble by offering fewer things to break. Certainly there are new features in Windows Server 2008, and those will be useful to many customers. However, I'
IT departments are conservative by nature, and with good reason. Change for change's sake just adds more trouble to the endless supply of troubles that IT departments have to manage. The new Windows Server 2008 has the potential to remove some of that trouble by offering fewer things to break. Certainly there are new features in Windows Server 2008, and those will be useful to many customers. However, I'm even more interested in what they are letting users leave out.With Windows Server 2008, Microsoft is continuing its push to lock down the server product line by disabling and/or removing features out of the box. If you lived through the horrible exploits and worms that infested Windows Server 2000 due to its "everything on by default" policy, you know how important this is to security. Windows Server 2003 reversed that server-welcomes-all-exploits approach, and 2008 continues the trend.

Perhaps the most extreme sign of this trend is the Server Core installation option, which completely leaves out a graphical interface. The server is managed through the command line, just as you might manage a Linux box. Maintenance tasks can be automated through the new PowerShell, or the older Windows Script Host shell interpreters. The result is a server that takes fewer resources and offers fewer attack surfaces.

Even the little signs are good. Remember that Windows 98 was released in August 1998, when the year was more than half over? It looks like Microsoft will ship Windows Server 2008 in the first half its namesake year, almost like a new car model. It's nice to use a product that doesn't sound like last year's news.

The servers I use with Windows Server 2003 are hosted by a managed hosting company, so their staff will need to get up to speed before we'd make a jump. Plus, the best time to switch operating systems is when you need to switch server hardware. We don't plan on needing to refresh the hardware until late this year, or perhaps even 2009. But when the switch does happen, I feel good about installing Server 2008 on the boxes.