I've been having a play around with a Virtual PC 2007 install of Windows Server 2008 Beta 3. Overall, I quite like it, but there are a few issues that have got my attention.
Primarily the beta version, at least, has a serious issue with memory. It either has problems with memory allocation and release or there's something in there with a severe memory leak. I've got the VM set up to use 896Mb of RAM. Once 2k8 has loaded, there's about 500Mb of this left, this is before installing any services that you may wish the server to have. In my example, I needed IIS and SQL as I would be using it to test some of our existing web applications under the new environments.
Once IIS and SQL 2005 were installed, available memory dropped into the region of 350Mb. Now SQL and IIS on there own do not take up this many resources, certainly not 150Mb! There were no sites configured under IIS and SQL had nothing more than the standard DB set that it installs with.
On more than one occasion during the process, available memory was completely used, slowing all operations to a crawl until adequate resources could be freed.
Now, I do understand that the situation may be somewhat different under a genuine, physical install rather than a Virtual PC environment but I still find that using the best part of 400Mb just on the Operating System is a little resource heavy. More worrying is the continued allocation of all available resources. Hopefully this will be sorted in the later releases as the code is optimised.
I'm not overly struck with the general look and feel of the OS. I know it's supposed to but, to me, it looks a little TOO
much like Vista. I like server Operating Systems to be clean so you can find whatever utilities, services, etc, you're looking for without too much of a hunt. Server 2k8 feels like it's concentrating too much on the look of the OS rather than it's functionality. For example, all the icons are the typical, large ones same as Vista. Don't get me wrong, I like a flashy GUI as much as the next man but I don't feel they're required on a server system. Obviously, this can be rectified after installation and themes, etc, disabled but, again, I fell it would be more benficial to have the server default to the most basic settings and then let you activate whatever you liked.
IIS 7 is great. It has some excellent management features that save you having to wade through the pages of site properties you used to have to from with previous versions. Everything you can configure is available through individual selections on the management console, even to the point of being able to tweak the content of web.config files. It's also good for the developer in that, on older version of IIS, certain features (such as default documents) had to be configured from the management console. If the developer didn't have access to that, he would have to ask the Server Admin to set things up for him. In IIS 7, these options can be configured directly from within web.config so the developer has full control over the site themselves.
The Windows Firewall is configured to be on as standard, rather than there but not configured as it was in 2k3. As you add the different roles to the server, it automatically adds the rule exceptions to allow traffic to the services in question. Very nice addition, IMHO.
As I said, overall it's very nice. Hopefully it won't be plagued wih the various issues that have dogged Vista since it's release. I look forward to testing a more up-to-date version as, and when, it becomes available.