windows server 2008

Windows server 2008:

I was hoping to write about some of the cool features that were introduced with windows server 2008

But a brief introduction on the features of windows server 2008. By introducing the Hypervisor, Microsoft launched windows 2008 with and without Hypervisor in its editions. With windows 2008, Microsoft has introduced a role based installation per server. What does that mean?

It means that you now need to install binaries needed only for specific purposes. If you ever wondered why you need Internet Explorer on your server, you now can implement the Core editions.

A feature wise comparison sheet provided by Microsoft:

Comparison by server role:

What edition should you choose?

Unless of course you are a large enterprise and have a lot of money to spend you could invest in a Datacenter edition. It’s licensed usually on a per processor + cal basis. It also allows you unlimited virtual machines per host server.

Enterprise and Standard are what we would be interested in. If you need clustering feature then Enterprise or Datacenter edition would be needed. Else a standard server should be sufficient.

Deciding next on 32 or 64 bit editions to install. A lot of new applications are built for X64 based system. So if you plan to install Exchange 2007 then you would need a X64, best thing to do is check the application system requirements or contact your vendor. An X86 has a memory issue beyond 4 GB of RAM.

The server Manager:

The server Manager is installed by default as a part of windows 2008 Installation on all editions except if you opt to install the Core editions.

You may enable roles and features needed by the server through the server manager. What is the advantage of such a setup? Well you will only install the binaries / tools needed for that particular role. This would also reduce the attack surface for the server and will have a minimum footprint.

What roles and features can be installed through the server Manager?

Active Directory certificate services: installing certificate services & web enrollment. If you have a windows 2003 CA and need to generate a certificate for windows Vista or windows server 2008 then refer to the following table for interoperability. Also on a windows 2008 you need to lower the security for web enrollment, this occurs due to issues with Active X scripts need for windows 2003 and windows 2008 being different. This is due to change from Xenroll and cert enroll.


Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 SP1

Windows Server 2003 SP2

Windows Server 2008

Client computers that are earlier than Windows Vista



Supported but with reduced functionality

Windows Vista-based client computers

Unsuccessful together with a “Downloading ActiveX control” message

Unsuccessful together with a message that states that the Web pages must be updated


Refer to MS KB

Active Directory Domain services: needed for the Active directory domain controller role. Please note that if you are installing the win2k8 in an existing forest / domain. You need to run the Adprep utility for extending the schema.

Adprep / forestprep: run on the schema master role. The credentials needed are enterprise admin and schema admin.

Adprep / domainprep / Gpprep : run on the infrastructure master. Need min of domain admin credentials.

Adprep / rodcprep (optional) for installing Read only domain controllers. Run on infrastructure master. Need min of domain admin credentials.

We will discuss the functioning of a read only domain controller in a later post.

Active Directory federation services: Provides a single sign on to different applications for a user across multiple forests through the implementation of federated TRUSTS.

Active directory Light weight Directory services: AD LDS is a role that was formerly called ADAM or active directory application mode.

Active directory rights Management: formerly called the rights management services, used to secure RMS enabled application data. For example protecting a document in a SharePoint library or an email sent to the entire company. RMS enabled applications have the capability for example prevent a user from copying or Forwarding an email or a document etc.

Application server: Install MSMQ/ COM+ etc enabled through the application server role.

DHCP: Provide dynamic Ip addresses to client / sessions. Both V4 and V6.

DNS: Provide network name resolution.

File services: File server / installing distributed file systems.

Fax server: configure the server with a Fax Modem and make it send / Receive Faxes.

Hyper-V : Run Multiple guest Operating system on a single host by implementing the Hypervisor layer.

Network policy & access services or NAP: Network access protection, you may provide a way for only compliant clients to access the system. Non compliant clients could be on a quarantined network VLAN.

Example: A large corporation’s policy specifies that if a computer does not have Antivirus or Firewall enabled it cannot access the corporate business applications. In such a scenario we could implement NAP on DHCP, VLAN, Remote access, Terminal server Gateway. If a non compliant client connects over the network then it is automatically quarantined if it does not meet the requirements.

Print services: Provide solution for configuring large network print devices.


WEB Server or Internet Information services.

Terminal services: Now includes terminal server, TS licensing server and TS gateway and TS web.

We will discuss terminal services in windows server 2008 in much detail in later posts.

Windows deployment services: Remote installation of windows & preconfigured images through a pxe.

List of Features:

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 Features

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 combines the power of the .NET Framework 2.0 APIs with new technologies for building applications that offer appealing user interfaces, protect your customers’ personal identity information, enable seamless and secure communication, and provide the ability to model a range of business processes.

BitLocker Drive Encryption

BitLocker Drive Encryption helps to protect data on lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers by encrypting the entire volume and checking the integrity of early boot components. Data is decrypted only if those components are successfully verified and the encrypted drive is located in the original computer. Integrity checking requires a compatible trusted platform module (TPM).

BITS Server Extensions

Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) Server Extensions allow a server to receive files uploaded by clients using BITS. BITS allows client computers to transfer files in the foreground or background asynchronously, preserve the responsiveness of other network applications, and resume file transfers after network failures and computer restarts.

Connection Manager Administration Kit

Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK) generates Connection Manager profiles.

Desktop Experience

Desktop Experience includes features of Windows Vista®, such as Windows Media Player, desktop themes, and photo management. Desktop Experience does not enable any of the Windows Vista features by default; you must manually enable them.

Failover Clustering

Failover Clustering allows multiple servers to work together to provide high availability of services and applications. Failover Clustering is often used for file and print services, database, and e-mail applications.

Group Policy Management

Group Policy Management makes it easier to understand, deploy, manage, and troubleshoot Group Policy implementations. The standard tool is Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), a scriptable Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that provides a single administrative tool for managing Group Policy across the enterprise.

Internet Printing Client

Internet Printing Client enables clients to use Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) to connect and print to printers on the network or Internet.

Internet Storage Name Server

Internet Storage Name Server (iSNS) provides discovery services for Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) storage area networks. iSNS processes registration requests, deregistration requests, and queries from iSNS clients.

LPR Port Monitor

Line Printer Remote (LPR) Port Monitor enables the computer to print to printers that are shared using any Line Printer Daemon (LPD) service. (LPD service is commonly used by UNIX-based computers and printer-sharing devices.)

Message Queuing

Message Queuing provides guaranteed message delivery, efficient routing, security, and priority-based messaging between applications. Message Queuing also accommodates message delivery between applications that run on different operating systems, use dissimilar network infrastructures, are temporarily offline, or that are running at different times.

Multipath I/O

Microsoft Multipath I/O (MPIO), along with the Microsoft Device Specific Module (DSM) or a third-party DSM, provides support for using multiple data paths to a storage device on Windows.

Network Load Balancing

Network Load Balancing (NLB) distributes traffic across several servers, using the TCP/IP networking protocol. NLB is particularly useful for ensuring that stateless applications, such as a Web server running Internet Information Services (IIS), are scalable by adding additional servers as the load increases.

Peer Name Resolution Protocol

Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) allows applications to register on and resolve names from your computer, so other computers can communicate with these applications.

Quality Windows Audio Video Experience

Quality Windows Audio Video Experience (qWave) is a networking platform for audio and video (AV) streaming applications on Internet protocol home networks. qWave enhances AV streaming performance and reliability by ensuring network quality-of-service for AV applications. It provides admission control, run time monitoring and enforcement, application feedback, and traffic prioritization. On Windows Server platforms, qWave provides only rate-of-flow and prioritization services.

Remote Assistance

Remote Assistance enables you (or a support person) to offer assistance to users with computer issues or questions. Remote Assistance allows you to view and share control of the user’s desktop in order to troubleshoot and fix the issues. Users can also ask for help from friends or co-workers.

Remote Differential Compression

The Remote Differential Compression (RDC) feature is a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that applications can use to determine if a set of files have changed, and if so, to detect which portions of the files contain the changes.

Remote Server Administration Tools

Remote Server Administration Tools enables remote management of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 from a computer running Windows Server 2008, by allowing you to run some of the management tools for roles, role services, and features on a remote computer.

Removable Storage Manager

Removable Storage Manager (RSM) manages and catalogs removable media and operates automated removable media devices.

RPC over HTTP Proxy

RPC over HTTP Proxy is a proxy that is used by objects that receive remote procedure calls (RPC) over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This proxy allows clients to discover these objects even if the objects are moved between servers or if they exist in discrete areas of the network, usually for security reasons.

Services for NFS

Services for Network File System (NFS) is a protocol that acts as a distributed file system, allowing a computer to access files over a network as easily as if they were on its local disks. This feature is available for installation on Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems; in other versions of Windows Server 2008, Services for NFS is available as a role service of the File Services role.

Simple TCP/IP Services

Simple TCP/IP Services supports the following TCP/IP services: Character Generator, Daytime, Discard, Echo, and Quote of the Day. Simple TCP/IP Services is provided for backward compatibility and should not be installed unless it is required.

SMTP Server

SMTP Server supports the transfer of e-mail messages between e-mail systems.

SNMP Services

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is the Internet standard protocol for exchanging management information between management console applications—such as HP Openview, Novell NMS, IBM NetView, or Sun Net Manager—and managed entities. Managed entities can include hosts, routers, bridges, and hubs.

Storage Manager for Storage Area Networks

Storage Manager for Storage Area Networks (SANs) helps you create and manage logical unit numbers (LUNs) on Fibre Channel and iSCSI disk drive subsystems that support Virtual Disk Service (VDS) in your SAN.

Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications

Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications (SUA), along with a package of support utilities available for download from the Microsoft Web site, enables you to run UNIX-based programs, and compile and run custom UNIX-based applications in the Windows environment.

Telnet Client

Telnet Client uses the Telnet protocol to connect to a remote telnet server and run applications on that server.

Telnet Server

Telnet Server allows remote users, including those running UNIX-based operating systems, to perform command-line administration tasks and run programs by using a telnet client.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol Client

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) Client is used to read files from, or write files to, a remote TFTP server. TFTP is primarily used by embedded devices or systems that retrieve firmware, configuration information, or a system image during the boot process from a TFTP server.

Windows Internal Database

Windows Internal Database is a relational data store that can be used only by Windows roles and features, such as UDDI Services, AD RMS, Windows Server Update Services, and Windows System Resource Manager.

Windows Internet Name Service (WINS)

Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) provides a distributed database for registering and querying dynamic mappings of NetBIOS names for computers and groups used on your network. WINS maps NetBIOS names to IP addresses and solves the problems arising from NetBIOS name resolution in routed environments.

Windows PowerShell™

Windows PowerShell is a command-line shell and scripting language that helps IT professionals achieve greater productivity. It provides a new administrator-focused scripting language and more than 130 standard command-line tools to enable easier system administration and accelerated automation.

Windows Process Activation Service

Windows Process Activation Service (WAS) generalizes the IIS process model, removing the dependency on HTTP. All the features of IIS that were previously available only to HTTP applications are now available to applications hosting Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services, using non-HTTP protocols. IIS 7.0 also uses WAS for message-based activation over HTTP.

Windows Server Backup Features

Windows Server Backup Features allow you to back up and recover your operating system, applications, and data. You can schedule backups to run once a day or more often, and can protect the entire server or specific volumes.

Windows System Resource Manager

Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) is a Windows Server operating system administrative tool that can control how CPU and memory resources are allocated. Managing resource allocation improves system performance and reduces the risk that applications, services, or processes will interfere with each other to reduce server efficiency and system response.

Wireless LAN Service

Wireless LAN (WLAN) Service configures and starts the WLAN AutoConfig service, regardless of whether the computer has any wireless adapters. WLAN AutoConfig enumerates wireless adapters, and manages both wireless connections and the wireless profiles that contain the settings required to configure a wireless client to connect to a wireless network.

Reference by Microsoft TechNet.

The server Manager starts when you start windows and Login. This behavior can be changed:

If you feel that server manager is a Nag, which I seriously do at times. And do not want it to open when you logon then you need to tweak the following registry keys.

Don’t open the server manager when you logon:


By default the value is 0. Change it to 1 to prevent the window from opening.

There is also an initial configuration task window that opens up. Well that can be disabled as well

To not open the initial configuration task window:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Server Manager\oobe

Default value is 0, change it to 1.

We will discuss in depth about the active directory domain services.

Active directory & AD DS on windows server 2008:

The active directory domain services is installed if you plan to make the server a domain controller. Other tools like DCdiag, netdom etc are installed by default when you install the role. Unfortunately Replmon is no longer present.

Can you upgrade a server running windows 2003 active directory to a windows 2008 AD DS : The answer is yes. However inplace upgrade of certain other roles are not supported. I would recommend doing a fresh install of windows 2008 AD DS and then demote the existing after transferring the FSMO roles, Global catalog etc. There is a change in ways in which the group policy is implemented in a window 2003 / XP Vs windows Vista / windows 2008.

We will discuss the other details in the Part 2 of this post.