Hi Folks –
One of the most innovative new features in Windows Server 2012 R2 is Work Folders, which gives users access to files on a company file server over the Internet or a corporate LAN or WAN while allowing organizations to maintain control over that data. Here’s an overview:
- It works by syncing the data between end-user devices and the file server, which means that IT admins can use all the same familiar file server management tools to manage and secure that data.
- From a technical perspective, there are two parts to Work Folders: on the server, it’s a sub-role under File and Storage Services that can be enabled on any file server running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Storage Server 2012 R2.
- On user devices, the Work Folders “client” is what connects to the server and handles synchronization of the files in the background, without the user needing to do anything else. All the user needs to think about are his or her local files.
Upon the initial release of Windows Server 2012 R2, Work Folders only supported Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, which had support for Work Folders (i.e., the Work Folders “client”) built-in.
Now the story gets even better! The Hybrid Storage Services team released a Work Folders client for Windows 7 Enterprise, Professional and Ultimate editions. Now your Windows 7 users can benefit from Work Folders and enjoy seamless access to their work data.
After Work Folders was announced in May of 2013, the overwhelming feedback we received was that we absolutely had to enable support for Windows 7, which has been deployed en-masse by corporate IT for the last several years. We assembled a Windows 7 Work Folders team right after the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 and they got right to work, overcoming multiple technical hurdles such as limited File Explorer integration. They designed and delivered a great experience that remains as close to Windows 8.1 as possible. It’s a great feeling to ship software at Microsoft and the Windows 7 Work Folders team did a great job, shipping one day ahead of schedule!
Where to Get It
The new release supports 17 languages and can be downloaded here:
For 64-bit (X64) Windows 7: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42558
For 32-bit (X86) Windows 7: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42559
Blogs and Links
If you’re interested in learning more about Work Folders, here are some great resources:
- Jian Yan, from the Work Folders team, posted this entry on the File Cabinet blog highlighting the release and the new functionality.
- Roiy Zysman posted a great list of Work Folders resources in this blog.
- Nir Ben Zvi introduced Work Folders on Windows Server 2012 R2.
- See this Q&A With Fabian Uhse, Program Manager for Work Folders in Windows Server 2012 R2
- Also, check out these posts about how to setup a Work Folders test lab, certificate management, and tips on running Work Folders on Windows Failover Clusters.
- Using Work Folders with IIS websites or the Windows Server Essentials Role (Resolving Port Conflicts)
I’m excited to see this new functionality put to use by Microsoft customers, and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences with Work Folders on Windows 7. Give it a try!
Scott M. Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server