WinServer "Longhorn" B3: This time it’s "Ready, Set, (Download), and Evaluate!"

That's right Windows Server "Longhorn" fans, Beta 3 is ready for your evaluation! 

Simply visit, and you're halfway there to trying out the first major public preview of our next generation of Windows Server.

As our press release touts:

"[With] Beta 3, customers will see new features and enhancements that include stronger security, better performance, new server roles and features, and additional server management and remote administration tools."

What that translates to is, well, a lot of new features and functionality that are ready for "tire kicking." 

Heck, we even provided a little cheat sheet to help you zero in on some of the key new features:

New and improved features in Beta 3 include the following:

  • Windows PowerShell is now included in the product.

  • Active Directory Federation Services improvements allow customers to implement new policies and make it easier to set up a relationship between trusted partners.

  • The Server Core installation option now comes with additional roles and enhanced functionality, such as print services and Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services. 

  • The Server Manager console includes additional remote administration tools to provide a more integrated management environment.

  • Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, now on by default, provides a persistent and more secure environment beginning at installation.

  • NAP is integrated with Microsoft Update and Windows Update to enable administrators to decide which updates are critical and set policies accordingly. It also has a new administrative interface for simplified setup, scalability and better performance.

Hey, there are two key features of mine on that list!  NAP and the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.

Now, there's been enough written about that NAP thingy, so I'll concentrate on the Windows Firewall instead.  You didn't misread the bullet above -- we have switched it on by default to help further the defense-in-depth security controls for Windows Server as well as help reduce attack surface area right out of the gate.

We started down this road with the "Post -Setup Security Update" feature in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 that switched on the newly added Windows Firewall right after install so you could safely venture on to the Internet to retrieve latest updates without increasing the risk of an unpatched vuln being exploited over the network.   As you might recall, this feature was described as follows:

"Windows Firewall provides network protection after install while users update their system with the latest patches using the new Post-Setup Security Updates feature.

[Post-Setup Security Updates was] designed to protect the server from the risk of infection between the time the server is first started and the application of the most recent security updates are applied from Windows Update. If Windows Firewall is enabled and the administrator did not explicitly enable Windows Firewall using an unattended-setup script or Group Policy, Post-Setup Security Updates opens the first time an administrator logs on."

The team has been working diligently to test all the major Windows Server scenarios/workloads/roles/etc under this new "on by default" model to ensure we were able to map out the key IP service ports and related communication parameters.  We've also done some neat stuff with Server Manager feature (cool stuff!) to help apply the appropriate firewall policies per the role(s)/workload(s) you enable.

I strongly encourage you to check this feature out, and learn about how this default to on works with the applications you run on top of Windows Server!

Well, my battery is just about to die (I'm at SFO getting ready to head back to SEA from the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo event here this week -- more on that later), so I better stop here so I can get this thing posted!

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