Windows Server 2012 Highlights

A quick visual tour of the revamped Server Manager and other great new features in Windows Server 2012.

The new Windows Server

Windows server management gets a new look in Windows Server 2012, with a revamped Server Manager and even a Metro GUI borrowed from Windows 8 -- but only if you want to use it. With WS2012, Server Manager becomes a multiserver management tool, and it's loaded with wizards to make all sorts of tasks dramatically easier. Click on for some highlights, and see our Windows Server 2012 RC review for a closer look. 

Server Manager Dashboard

The new and improved Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 is where most admins will spend the bulk of their time, with new administration tools including server role selection.

Server Manager

Server Manager has also had a graphical overhaul, now providing a cleaner view of even more local server data.

Server Groups

A useful new feature in Server Manager is the ability to manage multiple servers in groups. You can configure groups in any arrangement that makes logical sense to you, including things like subnet, department or geographic location.

Best Practices Analyzer

Another cool new feature in Server Manager is the ability to regularly scan each server for configuration errors that might impact performance or compliance, and immediately provide a link to the appropriate best practice knowledgebase article to correct the problem.

Managing Server Core

The GUI-less Server Core role allows administrators to activate certain portions of the Windows Server 2012 GUI using PowerShell 3.0, such as the Server Manager module.

Server Metro

Another GUI start option is the new Metro interface. Server admins can use Metro tiles to pin direct links to oft-used applications or managed resources to their start screens.

Hyper-V Live Migration

Hyper-V Live Migration has been enhanced in Windows Server 2012. You’ve got options on whether to move VMs or simply VM data, and you can perform live migrations of virtual machines from one server to another both inside and outside a clustered environment.

Hyper-V Replica

Hyper-V Replica is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 that makes asynchronous replication of virtual machines as easy as stepping through a wizard. 

Hyper-V Replica

To make configuring replicas easier, the Choosing Recovery History process (the number of recovery points to save) has been simplified.  

Hyper-V Replica

Part of the new Hyper-V Replica is a much easier method for designating replication targets and connection methods even across a WAN. The options include exporting the initial copy of the VM to an external drive for transfer, so you don’t have to push it over the network. 

Storage Spaces

Storage Spaces is a new feature that adds storage virtualization capabilities to Windows Server 2012. This can be done either as a storage pool, which groups a number of physical disks or as Storage Spaces, which groups a series of virtual disks with desired management attributes.

Dynamic Access Control

With Dynamic Access Control (DAC) in Windows Server 2012, you can apply data governance across your file servers to control and audit who has access to which information. Admins can enforce access rules based on file contents or metadata, and leverage Windows Rights Management permissions to control printing, saving, and sending.