Friday, August 3, 2012

Pros and cons of Windows Server 2012

If you have (or have not) started using Windows Server 2012, there are numerous pros and cons to using the new Windows Server OS.  Below are just some of the things that I found which are significant differences between its predecessor--Windows Server 2008 R2.

Pros

  1. The new Server Manager console is very easy to navigate and offers an easy way to perform a great variety of functions in a very efficient manner
  2. The enhancements in PowerShell v. 3.0 are significant and make scripting in PowerShell much more appealing
  3. It includes .NET 3.5 as well as .NET 4.5 and Windows Identity Foundation 3.5.  All of these can simply be installed through the Add Feature dialogs in Server Manager.
  4. The installation of the OS is SUPER, SUPER FAST.  I was able to install the OS inside of a VM in 15 mins.
  5. Installing large applications such as Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio 2012 install faster than their comparable installation on Windows Server 2008 R2.
  6. The boot time of the OS is also very fast.
  7. IIS 8 offers some great enhancements over IIS 7.5 such as the ability to apply host headers to SSL Sites and provide a central shared file store for SSL Certificates across multiple web servers.
  8. The new and enhanced Task Manager now displays icons for the various applications making it very easy to identify running processes that may have "cryptic" names
  9. It ships out-of-the-box with Internet Explorer 10 which provides much better and more reliable HTML5 and CSS3 support to the Internet Explorer platform.
  10. The new Server Manager allows you to close dialogs during the installation of Server Features and then check the Notifications menu to determine the installation progress or status.
  11. Setting up a domain controller is far easier and more painless than even setting up a domain controller using dcpromo in Windows Server 2008 R2.
  12. ADFS v. 2.0 is built into the Server Manager Add Roles/Features, so there is no need to download ADFS v. 2.0 separately to install it.

Cons

  1. The new "Metro" look requires bouncing back and forth between the Desktop interface and the Start menu just to open programs.  This makes multitasking very difficult and reduces productivity compared to the traditional Windows OS.
  2. Opening the Start menu requires a high degree of mouse precision.  The Start menu will not simply "appear" by hovering in the vicinity of where it should auto appear.  Instead, the Start menu (outside of  using the Windows key on a Windows keyboard) requires pointing to the upper top right, bottom right or bottom left corner.  There is no simple "Start" button to easily click on that is always visible.
  3. The search pane is separate from the Start menu (unlike the Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 start menu).  This requires one additional click to click on the Search icon and then begin searching for  particular programs.
  4. The Start menu program tiles do not display full file names.  Instead, if the file names are too long, the tiles display an ellipsis (...) that masks the full file name.  Hovering over any of the tiles (and pausing for a second or two) displays the full file name, but does not display any contextual information to allow further distinction.  For example, SQL Server Management Studio displays as SQL Server Manag... Studio.  Similar tiles such as SQL Server Installation Center... display exactly with the same title and icon thereby allowing no apparent distinction between the 2 icons in terms of their actual program functionality or full program names.
  5. There are no more right-click pop-up contextual menus on Start menu tiles.  Instead, you have to right click on a tile and then move your mouse down towards a toolbar menu at the bottom of the screen to access right click menu options.  This is slightly more effort than before since right click menus could be used in almost a single sweeping motion (right click, hover to menu option and release).
  6. The new look requires more clicks to even perform something as simple as a Power operation.
  7. The "minimize" button in the OS is not visible as it was in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but it still remains in the lower right hand corner of the screen.  If you are like most end users that actually require visual confirmation of a button, "hiding" this button, forces users to rely on remembering the Windows keyboard shortcut "Windows key + M" to minimize all active windows.
  8. There is no categorization of programs in the Metro Start menu--all of the Programs are simply tiles with no ordered structure whatsoever.  There does not seem any way to re-categorize the Program tiles into a "folder-like" structure.
  9. The new "Feature on Demand" installation of Server features requires access to the server media at all times or access to a common file share with the OS sources directory.
  10. Features that rely on PowerShell v. 2.0 and .NET 3.5 support (such as the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell) will simply not work.  The only current workaround is to use a tool such as PowerGUI and load the appropriate PowerShell libraries.  
Overall, there are significant improvements in Windows Server 2012 which make it a much improved and worthwhile OS.  However, the new User Interface dramatically reduces the productivity associated with managing the Server.  While the new UI is definitely more touch screen friendly, I just don't foresee touch screens being used to manage servers on a day-to-day basis.  It is definitely convenient for mobile or remote workers using a cell phone or iPad to manage their server remotely when they are not in front of a workstation, but all day long each and every day??--highly unlikely.  Of course, if you are a "server purist", you will not need to rely on the GUI for server management...

Unfortunately, server and network administrators are not the only ones who have to manage servers (for example, SharePoint developers), therefore the productivity loss for developers and non-server administrators around the world will definitely be significant for this new server OS.

2 comments:

  1. I am not a fan of the new operating system myself. Despite this I know how important it is and how further companies and software will eventually use its implications. I took a Microsoft boot camp certification program to help me learn more about it but still prefer the older version in my personal use.

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