Are You Ready for Longhorn

According to Microsoft engineers Windows Vista introduces a breakthrough user experience and is designed to help you feel confident in your ability to view, find, and organize information and to control your computing experience.

The visual sophistication of Windows Vista helps streamline your computing experience by refining common window elements so you can better focus on the content on the screen rather than on how to access it. The desktop experience is more informative, intuitive, and helpful. And new tools bring better clarity to the information on your computer, so you can see what your files contain without opening them, find applications and files instantly, navigate efficiently among open windows, and use wizards and dialog boxes more confidently.

Although it’s a way off, still (late 2007 is, I believe, the current estimate), that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about what Windows Longhorn Server will mean for your environment. And you’ll want it in your environment: Longhorn is possibly the most compelling server OS we’ve had since…well, Windows NT 3.1, I think. It’s not the revolutionary change that Win2000 was (with its introduction of Active Directory), but some of the things in Longhorn will just beg to be used in any environment.
Longhorn that can act as a file server, domain controller (DC), DNS server and/or DHCP server. I know, 500MB. I’m thinking a nice 1U rackmount server or blade that has, oh, 8GB of RAM (x64 processor, of course) and a pretty small hard drive. And this is what you should be thinking of now: how you’ll utilize Server Core when it finally arrives. This is going to be the most stable version of Windows ever, simply because it has so few “moving parts.” If the industry estimate of 1 bug per 1,000 lines of code is close, I’m betting 500MB of code will contain a lot fewer bugs than the full-on version of Longhorn, which is going to be huge. 500MB means less patches, less potential vulnerabilities and less maintenance. “Windowless” means servers you can lock in a closet and manage entirely from your desktop, since there’s no GUI on the server in the first place.

Microsoft suggestion: Start arranging your environment so that infrastructure servers include just the servers that Server Core supports. These machines can be the first ones replaced by Longhorn machines (you can’t “upgrade” to Server Core; it’s a fresh install on a replacement machine). So consolidate DCs, DHCP and DNS onto boxes that have no other functionality on them, making them perfect server-for-server swapouts when Longhorn finally becomes available.

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