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Windows Server 8 Preview

Post image for Windows Server 8 Preview

by Steve Wiseman on April 6, 2012 · 22 comments

in Beta,Windows


Microsoft has released a public beta of Windows Server 8. You can get a free copy from here:

It can’t run in most virtual environments, so if you are going to try it out…you will probably need a physical machine.

The first thing I noticed – There is no start menu:

No Start Menu

While digging around I found this point very frustrating. I kept clicking that empty space on the far left of the task bar. I can bet if they leave it this way, there will be third party solutions to bring it back ๐Ÿ™‚

Because the start menu is missing, everything is accomplished through the server manager. This new interface is quite powerful. How many times have you jumped on a server and need to stop and start a particular service right away?

You can easily drill down to a service just by typing its name:

New Service Management

As you can see, I was testing our Remote Control – and thankfully it works perfect under this beta of Windows 8.

There are other dashboard controls just like this for events, performance, rolls and features, and even a best practices analyzer.

All the tools you would use in day to day administration are conveniently located on the tools menu of the server manager:

Windows 8 Server Tools

They are making changes to explorer too. Commonly accessed items are available right from the folder view:

Windows 8 Explorer Changes

Accessing the properties of a folder can now be done in one click:

Folder Properties

When I first opened task manager I was shocked:

Task Manager Windows 8

I thought “That’s it?” What are they doing?!?

But I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked the “More Details” button:

Task manager more details

On another tab, they have beautiful performance graphs:

The users tab is great, it shows performance, memory usage by user:

Users Graph

It would really help when you are trying to figure out who is hogging all the resources on the Terminal Server ๐Ÿ™‚

I can imagine a lot will change before the final release, but it is worth checking out to see where Microsoft is headed with the next version of Windows.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul I April 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Thanks for sharing steve. I have been so busy I did not even know MS had a beta of Windows 8 yet. I will check it out!

2 Mr Pumpkin April 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Is that some type of theme you applied, or is that the default look in that beta of Windows Server 8?


3 Steve Wiseman April 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm


That is the default look. I did not change it…so that is the new theme for Windows 8 Server I guess.

4 John April 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Just FYI to everyone the very latest version of VMWare can load Windows 8. I believe the issue has to do with EFI and VMWares support of it.

Not sure on the virtual machine for Windows.

5 Steffen Hansen April 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

This runs fine under Hyper-V in Windows 8 Consumer Preview (Anyone noticing the irony here?)

6 Steve Wiseman April 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

Interesting. Anyone know if the 2008 R2 version of Hyper-V will run it?

7 Joerg Renggli April 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

I didn’t test it yet, but if you disable “signature requirement” it might help.

To disable the signature requirement for the current boot process:

1. Restart the computer and during startup, press F8.

2. Select Advanced Boot Options.

3. Select Disable Driver Signature Enforcement.

4. Boot into Windowsยฎ and uninstall the unsigned driver.


8 Steve Wiseman April 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the helpful post Joerg…I will try this out


9 Jennifer S April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thank you for posting this steve. Windows 8 Server looks quite different, so it is good to have a head start. I already downloaded the ISO and am installing it on a machine here. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

10 Steffen Hansen April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Just did a Core install of Server8 on top of 2008R2 Hyper-V. No issues at all. Didn’t need to disable Driver Signatures or the likes.

11 Steve Wiseman April 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Thanks for the info Steffen, really appreciate it.


12 snrdk April 11, 2012 at 6:19 am

hi, i was told by a friend that bcos it is a preview version, it always restarts after 2 hours. how through is it?

13 Steve Wiseman April 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

This is probably true. I have not left it running for more than two hours to see…but I remember MS doing this in the past.

14 Steffen Hansen April 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

It doesn’t restart after 2 hours (-:

15 Steve Wiseman April 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for the info Steffen…Just let mine run here too…still up for 3 hours with no reboot.

16 joseph ferrante June 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm

NO START MENU? that sounds bad its definately not for me.

17 Steve Wiseman June 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately it looks like we are going to have to get used to it. The louder people complain the louder people at MS seem to get…telling us Windows 8 is an “Immersive” environment…and explain it away by saying that each version brings change that people don’t like.

One of the favorite old lines is the transition from DOS to Windows 3.1…except they keep forgetting to mention that in that situation you could still have the same old DOS command line you were using before.

I really hope they get some sanity over in MS and re-think this – otherwise it will never see the light of day in most IT departments.

Why would we want to retrain all of our users? What is the benefit? If you have used Windows 8 for any period of time you will come to the conclusion that you cannot be as productive as in Windows 7. Too many clicks and keyboard presses to do simple things.

Yes it is true that if you just want to twitter and go to Facebook all day it is great. I can’t possibly see myself working faster with it when I actually need to get something done. I really think MS has lost sight of this.

I don’t know what they will release in the fall, but I am not real confident it will be something to look forward to ๐Ÿ™

18 Steve Wiseman June 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Hi again everyone…I just wanted to share a quote I found from MS about the start button:

“..In the current Windows format, the Start button opens a menu with a list of applications. An “All Programs” tab within that menu opens a plethora of folders and subfolders. Microsoft’s engineers believe this is an inefficient system, particularly in light of increased user focus on apps and Websites.”

I think that says it all

19 john werneken August 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Multi-boot system, driver signature issues, win7 and win 8 tricks work fine using BCDedit to disable integrity checks on those; win 8 server beta partition accepts the same entry but for that one, it won’t boot – it now says the kernel is unsigned (which is basically what the other two were doing before I added NOINTEGRITY_CHECKS=ON on all the partitions).

Any ideas?

Also I don’t no the sytax using /set loadoptions where does the partition ID go?

20 Steve Wiseman August 22, 2012 at 12:11 am

Hi John,

I will admit I am stumped with this one. Win 8 is really new…don’t have any info on how to fix this one.

You might want to check out the Windows 8 forums at technet (Or at least post your question there):

21 Brad October 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Any word on whether Remote Control 5.1 still works to “jump into” RDP sessions on Windows Server 2012, or for that matter works at all on 2012? The lack of built-in shadowing capability in Server 2012 is going to cripple my company’s ability to support our clients on our hosted terminal server farms, so we’re looking for alternatives.

22 Steve Wiseman October 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Yes, It works well with 2012, and Windows 8. We use it all the time to work on our own internal 2012 server…that includes jumping into RDP sessions.

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