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A first look at the Windows Server 10 Technical Preview

Jonathan Hassell | Oct. 7, 2014
Windows 10 on the client side has a lot to answer for, given the panning of Windows 8 by large swaths of the Microsoft user base, but on the server side, Windows Server 10 seems in this preview release like a very solid march forward on all fronts.

Significant changes in storage. One of recent Windows releases' big focus points has been making storage cheap, fast and fault tolerant. For example, there is a wonderful new replication component that copies, block by block, storage -- and of course any changes in those blocks -- between two hosts. This means there is always a replica of storage that is just a few paces behind; this improves the reliability of many applications.

Additionally, there are new rules that administrators can customize and implement that will allow admins to define storage quality-of-service metrics. In other words, an administrator can mandate that a certain application or task get a minimum number of IOPS (I/O operations per second) in any given environment to assure performance, even if the throughput of other applications or workloads has to suffer to service that minimum.

A new version of the best Windows scripting language around. Windows PowerShell 5.0, which has been in preview since mid-April 2014, marks its operating system debut in Windows 10 and Windows Server 10. This new release includes improvements to the Desired State Configuration utility that helps configure systems into a steady state and brings them back if they deviate from that state. There are also improvements to the integrated scripting environment user interface. This area is absolutely still under active development and it is likely PowerShell 5.0 will release before the final version of Windows Server 10 is declared.

Web Application Proxy (WAP) becomes more useful. The demise of Forefront Unified Application Gateway has at least benefited this version of Windows Server, as the WAP role becomes even more full-featured. It will now pre-authenticate users using HTTP Basic authentication. You can publish RemoteApp programs through the Remote Desktop Gateway service, redirect users from HTTP to HTTPS sessions, use wildcards in external URLs of the applications you are protecting and more.

On balance, right now there is not a huge Big Bang feature that will sell you on moving to Windows Server 10. But that was not the point of releasing the technical preview now anyway. Rather, these incremental improvements continue to tear down objections and obstacles to using some really cool new capabilities Microsoft introduced in Windows Server 2012 -- and makes them simpler and more accessible.

Big drawbacks
As you might expect, while there is a lot to like about this preview, there are also some changes that, at least for now, are bound not to sit well with some constituencies. These include:

Network access protection (NAP) is gone. The rumors were true; the technology that allowed you to restrict the ability of untrusted or mistrusted hosts on your network to actually talk over the wire -- without remediating whatever problem they had that was causing them to be mistrusted -- has been yanked out of this build.


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