Microsoft's Tuesday's event was all about the enterprise; Redmond's meat-and-potatoes base. A first look at the Windows Technical Preview for Enterprise client and Windows Server Technical Preview show a host of cosmetic changes designed to appease business customers who were outraged over the UI of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, both of which were criticized as impractical in enterprise environments.
And has Microsoft taken heed! Windows 10 Enterprise client and Server are step backs to the mouse-and-keyboard user experience of Windows 7, but retain the many security, performance, and ease-of-management capabilities that Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 delivered. In fact, the latest server OS has many under-the-hood enhancements that IT professionals have demanded.
Though both OSes are in their nascent, preview stages, I took an early look and installed and configured the enterprise client and server as Hyper-V machines in an existing Windows Server 2012 R2 domain. During my test drive one thing became clear: Both operating systems are positioned to become potential darlings to Microsoft's vast business customer base.
Windows Server Technical Preview
As of Oct. 1, MSDN subscribers can download several flavors of the latest Windows Server, including the Windows Server Technical Preview, Windows Server Datacenter Technical Preview, and Microsoft Hyper-V Server Technical Preview.
The Server Technical Preview is available as an ISO image, which was simple to install on Server 2012 R2's Hyper-V. The first thing most will notice is that the tile-based Start screen is nowhere to be found in the interface. Instead, the desktop appears with the familiar Start menu of pre-Server 2012 OSes.
The power button, which baffled many a seasoned Windows server administrator when it was buried in the tiled wonderland of the Server 2012 Start screen, is prominently on top of the Start menu for easy access. Of course, none of this matters for those who go with a core install and do most of their management through the command line. However, for those administering smaller networks and sites, the familiar UI will be comforting and is just easier to manage.
The Start menu has all the administrator tools that were previously in the Start screen in an organized, listed view. The Administrative Tools and Windows System folders are where the most common management utilities such as Control Panel and Local Security Policy reside.
In case you happen to love the graphics of Windows 8, don't fret: You can still evoke Charms and the tiled Start screen. In the Taskbar and Start menu Properties, by default, the option to use the Start menu instead of the Start screen is checked, which is why there is no Start screen on install.
Uncheck it to make the tiles appear. Charms are controlled in this property window as well, by checking the option, "When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms."
Aside from those adjustments, cosmetically, there is nothing different in Server Technical Preview than Windows Server 2012. There is still the graphics-heavy Server Manager to manage server roles and services. Through Server Manager, I was easily able to add the new Windows Server Preview as a member server in an existing Windows Server 2012 R2-level domain.
Deep within the new server OS lays many new features and enhancements. These are mostly additions that Server 2012 administrators have requested. The entire rundown of these new capabilities are on TechNet, but there are a few of note:Admins can now configure Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) to authenticate users stored in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories. There's a new Virtual Machine configuration format in Hyper-V designed to increase the efficiency of reading and writing virtual machine configuration data. The ability to add or remove network adapters and memory (even if Dynamic Memory is not enabled) on and from running virtual machines in Hyper-V, has been added. In DNS, you can create DNS policies to enable location-aware DNS, traffic management, load balancing, and other scenarios. Storage admins can set storage QoS policies on a Scale-Out File Server and assign them to one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V virtual machines.