IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Microsoft Windows Server 8 review: First Look

Microsoft has unveiled Windows Server 8 - but is there more to this upcoming server operating system than just the new Metro user interface? Mary Branscombe finds out in our sneak peek.

Windows Server 8 is a major new release with a significant number of new features, but what you probably want most is better management tools. How satisfied you'll be with the new version depends on whether you prefer to work through a GUI or through the command line with PowerShell.

Windows Server 8 gets a Metro-style Start screen, just like the client version.

Windows Server 8 gets a Metro-style Start screen, just like the client version.

The new Metro-style Start screen from the client version of Windows 8 has been carried over to Server, although we don't expect many Metro-style apps for servers. The Start screen is used as a program launcher for admin utilities like Server Manager and PowerShell. Compared to hunting through the flyout submenus of the Start menu it's much more efficient especially if you're logging into a server remotely from a small laptop screen. The Metro-style control panel isn't as good a match; if you're configuring a server you'll almost certainly want the full control panel (still accessible at the bottom of the over-friendly screen) or Server Manager.

The Metro-style control panel makes a server look too much like a home PC.

The Metro-style control panel makes a server look too much like a home PC.

It wouldn't be quite accurate to call the revamped Server Manager interface Metro for servers, although the dashboard page does have tiles for getting started and for seeing servers and issues at a glance. It's actually much like the Office 365 dashboard and admin tools; a clean layout that puts information and tools in logical places, but it still needs the fit and finish' work Microsoft tells us is coming on the interface.

We like the way you can pick a specific view or use the search box for ad-hoc filters in any view, but it's odd that task dropdown menus only appear by panels of information when you hover the mouse over them. It's not always a very good use of space; when you're faced with a long, scrolling list (like all your IP ranges in the IP address management tools), you can drag the panel to resize it but this isn't obvious.

Featured Resources

Meeting the future of education with confidence

How the switch to digital learning has created an opportunity to meet the needs of every student, always

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Cloud Pak® for Watson AIOps with Instana

Cost savings and business benefits

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

Technology reimagined

Why PCaaS is perfect for modern schools

Free Download

Recommended

How to reinstall Windows 10 without losing data
Microsoft Windows

How to reinstall Windows 10 without losing data

13 May 2022
EMA: The state of AIOps
Whitepaper

EMA: The state of AIOps

1 Apr 2022
Vulnerability in Linux kernel could let hackers remotely take over systems
operating systems

Vulnerability in Linux kernel could let hackers remotely take over systems

5 Nov 2021
IAR Systems and Secure Thingz partner to streamline Azure IoT migration
Microsoft Azure

IAR Systems and Secure Thingz partner to streamline Azure IoT migration

19 Oct 2021

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

7 Jun 2022
Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack
cyber attacks

Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack

21 Jun 2022
Swift exit: How the world cut off Russian banks
finance

Swift exit: How the world cut off Russian banks

24 Jun 2022