Microsoft Windows Server 8 review: First Look

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Some of the more exciting possibilities with Windows Server 8 include using commodity servers to replace expensive storage virtualisation and networking systems.

The good news is that you can do that with the current generation of hardware as well as taking advantage of CPUs with more cores and NUMA architecture as they come along. Although nothing is final, Microsoft is suggesting that system requirements for Windows Server 8 won't increase dramatically; we haven't been able to do extensive testing but we're told it will give you good performance on systems that run Windows Server 2008 R2 today and we had no problem installing it on low-spec machines.

So what are our first impressions?


Windows Server 8 is currently only available as a developer preview to give Microsoft partners a chance to start developing drivers and tools. As usual, there are some really compelling new features like Dynamic Access Control as well as improvements that make features like DirectAccess and CHKDSK what they should have been in the first place. They may not give you enough value to justify an upgrade on their own, but they could be welcome if you choose Windows Server 8 for the more strategic options like affordable high availability and building network and storage virtualisation systems with commodity hardware. Windows Server 8 shows promise, but we'll reserve final judgement for the final version which is expected in about a year's time. Editions and pricing are, as expected, yet to be announced.

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.