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Windows Server 8: An Inside Look

We drill into the good and bad of Microsoft's forthcoming OS and share exclusive survey results on IT deployment plans.

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Windows Server 8, scheduled for release in mid-2012, is Microsoft's first operating system built with the virtualized data center at its core. Microsoft has added critical capabilities to Hyper-V--its hypervisor, which is included with Windows Server 8--in an effort to compete with VMware. It also added features aimed at making operations and management easier. InformationWeek reviewed a developer edition of Windows Server 8 and finds it's an ambitious effort to head off VMware, whose virtualization and management software aims to take over much of what a server OS has traditionally done. We also conducted an exclusive InformationWeek Windows 8 Survey of 973 IT professionals at companies with 500 or more employees that shows Microsoft has its work cut out for it. For instance, nearly half of respondents, 48%, have no plans to upgrade to the new OS. Some of that reluctance is attributable to the relatively short release dates between Windows 7 and Windows 8. Windows 7 came out in the fall of 2009. According to our survey, of those with no plans to upgrade, 50% say they plan to stick with Windows 7 for as long as possible. Meanwhile, another 30% refuse to give up Windows XP.

That said, Microsoft has always been adept at giving engineers good technical reasons to ditch their existing server OS and upgrade, and Windows Server 8 is no exception. IT shops tend to deploy server upgrades ahead of PCs because the impact can be felt immediately and broadly across the company. Our survey finds 42% of respondents who are upgrading to Windows Server 8 are cautiously optimistic about the upgrade, and 14% "can't wait."

Asked about deployment timelines, 18% say they will upgrade as needed to replace retired servers and 17% don't have a timeline. A smaller percentage, 8%, expect to roll out Windows Server 8 as soon as it's available, while 27% will deploy within 24 months.

Once in place, Windows Server 8 will take up a lot of real estate in the data center: 39% with upgrade plans say the OS will run on 76% or more of their servers, and 24% will run the OS on 51% to 75% of servers.

Hyper-V Gets Hyped Up

While Hyper-V is a distant second in market share to VMware's hypervisor, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to catch up. The latest version of Hyper-V has noteworthy enhancements so it can be used in more complex virtualized environments. This may get IT leaders to take a second look. Of six features we asked about in Windows Server 8, a revamped Hyper-V will have the most significant impact on respondents' organizations. Built-in disk deduplication and the ability to cluster DHCP servers were close behind.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2011 | 11:22:16 PM
re: Windows Server 8: An Inside Look
"Microsoft has always been adept at giving engineers good technical reasons to ditch their existing server OS and upgrade"

Good technical reasons? Linux clusters are less costly and more reliable. Unix is far and away superior from a technical perspective (although maybe not from a cost perspective). I would be interested to know what technical superiority MS Server has over the Unix OS of your choice.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/19/2011 | 8:48:57 PM
re: Windows Server 8: An Inside Look
Why make readers jump through hoops to read the rest of the article? And how is this "green" when I now have to waste more bandwidth and energy than necessary to read only a fraction of the magazine? And what is the point of registering for everything? Isn't it enough to show a bunch of ads?
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