SLIDESHOW

Best and Worst of Windows 7 and Windows Server

The new release candidates of Microsoft's desktop and server operating systems work well together, but along with our favorite features we still have a wish list. Let's compare notes.

Hyper-V Offers Live Migration

We love that Windows 2008 R2's Hyper-V can finally slide a virtual machine from one server host to another. This feature has been years in the making, and it's not totally perfect, but after intense configuration, it's plainly doable. Although VMware's vSphere has raised the bar, Microsoft is catching up quickly to VMware.

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Mix and Match CPUs

And speaking of migration, you can even migrate to a machine using a different processor family (within reason). With Windows 2008 Server R2, no more hardware vendor locks that require virtual servers to be hosted on identical CPUs. It's flexible, and our remaining future hope is for totally CPU-agnostic migration capability. Some day . . .

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Help Desk Heaven

The Windows 7 Step Recorder was promised back in January, and it simply records what you do on Windows 7 into an HTML file. Simply email it to the help desk, tech support, or an unbelieving developer, and it's heaven-sent for better tech support. Simplicity is still bliss when it comes to trying to translate seen behavior to support personnel.

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Powershell 2.0

We love Powershell 2.0, not because we're Unix geeks but because it cuts through a stupendous number of drop-boxes in GUIs to get to the point. The commandlets are growing rapidly in number, and feed the need for get-out-of-my-way-you-stupid-GUI.

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Applocker

We really love Applocker on Windows 7 RC. Want to halt an application from being executed with certainty? It probably isn't foolproof, because little is -- but we like the idea of halting stuff we don't like so that it doesn't screw things up. This includes malware, older versions, your bootleg copy of Adobe, and all of those great games you downloaded from the Interwebtoobies. So there!

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Speed Test: Windows 7 May Not Be Much Faster Than Vista

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Bitlocker Could be Management Nightmare

We love strong passwords. We love encryption. And we're also well aware that Bitlocker in Windows 7 RC can now encrypt even loaded media like flash drives. We also worry about people that forget passwords and those that ignore suggestions to make passwords really tough to crack. This is a love/hate, but we believe that the hate part will come when we get called to figure out how to crack lost passwords. Yes, there are policies and other ways... but nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

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Benchmarking Not Easy in Virtual Mode

The Windows Experience Index, or lack of it -- because we love benchmarks. But we hate it when the benchmarks don't really work because you're running in a virtual machine. Yes, most users won't run Windows 7 inside of a virtual machine -- or will they? Virtualizing Windows 7 might be just the ticket for many organizations that won't use Remote Desktop Services. But don't think you'll get a rating.

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VPN-less VPN is Difficult

Windows 2008 Server R2 is going to allow administrators to build 'VPN-less' VPNs. The requirements, however, are a bit steep. First, have lots of network cards ready. Make sure that IPv6 and IPv4 addressing are OK. Then, get that all-important firewall thing going. Egads. We've been assured that everything will be OK. We're still not quite ready for this.

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Powershell 2.0 Needs Better Syntax

With the new Powershell 2.0 are lots of commandlets. But like Unix commands, script commands, batch languages, and various controls and even .Net syntaxes, the docs are all important -- especially as killer as some of these commandlets can be. Unix has its 'man pages,' but Powershell commands need a new method of explaining both syntax, revision status (as in: we changed it and how it behaves), and a keyword-based quick search system for use. These are powerful commands, and some of them probably need role-based execution controls: in the wrong hands, you're network could be totally crippled.

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Other Windows Resources:

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Microsoft Windows 7: A Closer Look at Your Next OS?

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Too Many Versions of Windows 7

We've been watching reports that licensing for Windows 7 may have as many as seven variants, ranging from a netbook version that's keyed by the size of the display all the way to something called Ultimate. The amount of consumer confusion and FUD created by so many classes of operating systems titled in the same way will drive us nuts. Without clear value differentiation, we'll be watching Windows 7 mutate with service packs and patch levels until it's a science fiction endeavor to plan, support, and fix Windows 7.

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Windows Server 2008: Faster, more manageable and secure, but still missing the virtual link

Microsoft's two new operating systems: A win-win

Other Windows Resources:

Speed Test: Windows 7 May Not Be Much Faster Than Vista

Microsoft Windows 7: A Closer Look at Your Next OS?

How to Give Your PC a Windows 7 Makeover