It’s been 5 years since Microsoft has made a release in the Windows Server family. Like many of the other software offerings from Microsoft, the development cycle has been inflated as the company looks to make significant changes to usability and security. Windows products are often bogged down with unnecessary features and are a favourite target of those looking to exploit security holes; with more important data tending to be stored on corporate servers than individual desktops, more security is expected and needed, but the server still needs to run effificiently.
The core code base of Windows Server 2008 is derived directly from the secure development model (SDM) that was used to develop Windows Vista. Initially that was a point of concern, having been less than impressed with the stability of Vista in my personal experience, but it does make sense. The thinking at Microsoft is that these new releases are being built on a more secure backbone of code, which makes future upgrades and enhancements less likely to create security headaches. With the two OSes sharing the base code, it should make it easier to identify major flaws and address them before they are exploited, too.
The most notable feature of Windows Server 2008 is probably the Server Core installation feature. This minimal installation option allows for a faster running, more secure server that is perfect for many basic roles: Domain controller/Active Directory Domain Services, ADLDS (ADAM), DNS Server, DHCP Server, file server, print server, Windows Media Server, Terminal Services Easy Print, TS Remote Programs, and TS Gateway, IIS 7 web server and Windows Server Virtualization virtual server (to be available in approximately 6 months). The server core installation is a great way to make use of older hardware at branch offices, for example.
From all the reviews I’ve browsed, this is a strong release by Microsoft; probably too long a wait, but it seems to have been done much better than Vista. It’s obviously not perfect, but the improvements that have made are improvements and they don’t overcomplicate or alienate longtime users. For more on the release, see the following articles and reviews: