Microsoft Windows Server 8 review: First Look

Search for files, apps and settings.

Search for files, apps and settings.

VPN-less remote DirectAccess isn't new, but instead of being an IPv6 option too complicated for anyone but the most expert network architects, it's now simple enough to set up with a wizard that also handles VPN configuration and connections between branch offices, data centres, public cloud services and just about anything else you need to send data to. It also opens up a management connection to remote PCs whenever they're online; no more waiting for users to connect to the corporate network to apply policies and updates. DirectAccess is an ideal complement to improved BranchCache, a hosted or peer-to-peer cache that speeds up file transfers for anything accessed by multiple users. This takes advantage of the new file deduplication feature.

Securing documents that ought to be confidential gets far easier with the new Dynamic Access Control. For example, it should be much easier to ensure that only users who are in the Active Directory finance group have access to files that belong to the finance department, or using regular expressions to identify documents that ought to be confidential and only letting the document owner access them (or automatically locking them with Rights Management Services). Admins will also be glad of the tool that lets a user request access to files and you can see why they can't open the file.

Mary Branscombe

Mary is a freelance business technology journalist who has written for the likes of ITPro, CIO, ZDNet, TechRepublic, The New Stack, The Register, and many other online titles, as well as national publications like the Guardian and Financial Times. She has also held editor positions at AOL’s online technology channel, PC Plus, IT Expert, and Program Now. In her career spanning more than three decades, the Oxford University-educated journalist has seen and covered the development of the technology industry through many of its most significant stages.

Mary has experience in almost all areas of technology but specialises in all things Microsoft and has written two books on Windows 8. She also has extensive expertise in consumer hardware and cloud services - mobile phones to mainframes. Aside from reporting on the latest technology news and trends, and developing whitepapers for a range of industry clients, Mary also writes short technology mysteries and publishes them through Amazon.