In this five-part series, I will summarize all of the new features in Windows Server 2012. Part 1 discusses the management-related features: Metro, PowerShell 3.0, Windows Deployment Services (WDS), Server Manager, IP Address Management (IPAM), DHCP Failover, policy-based IP address assignment, and Task Manager.

It is quite likely that I missed an important new Windows Server 2012 feature. Feel free to post a comment or send me a note, and I will add it to the list. Note that I only give a short summary of each feature here, but I’ve added links below each feature description for more information.

Windows Server 2012 Metro

Windows Server 2012 Metro

There has been a lot of buzz about Windows 8, mostly because of the introduction of the new Metro user interface. However, in my view, Windows Server 2012 is the real next big thing that will come out of Microsoft’s software factory. One post was enough to cover all the essential new Windows 8 features. For Windows Server 2012, I need five. Each post focuses on a particular area: Management, Storage, Security, Virtualization, and Active Directory.


The new Metro user interface is certainly the most controversial feature in Windows 8. Whereas many agree that the rise of tablets justifies a new UI for Windows clients, many admins wonder why a tablet UI is introduced with Windows Server 2012. Microsoft’s main reason is consistency. Most admins manage clients and servers and prefer to learn just one UI. Moreover, the Metro Start Screen could become a popular server dashboard that displays status information about administration tools from multiple software vendors. In the end, servers are multipurpose personal computers doing myriad things in the background that need to be constantly communicated to users. Servers and mobile phones are not that much different. Nevertheless, I think it is still possible that Microsoft allows admins to disable Metro in Windows Server 2012.

PowerShell 3.0

I am no PowerShell geek, but it appears to me that the enhancements in PowerShell 3.0 are huge. Windows Server 2008 R2 shipped with ~230 cmdlets, whereas Windows Server 2012 will have about 2,430 cmdlets. Much of the new power in PowerShell 3.0 stems from enhancements in WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation). You can now literally automate everything. Well, almost everything. The only cmdlet I still miss is one that allows you to automate automation. I guess “developmins” will continue to script manually for a while. However, there is another way to automate automation. You can install a GUI tool that has been manually developed by a third-party software vendor and is able to automate typical manual system administration tasks. 😉

Windows Server 2012 - PowerShell 3.0

Windows Server 2012 - PowerShell 3.0

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is a popular OS deployment solution for small- and mid-sized organizations. The WDS enhancements in Windows Server 2012 are numerous; I can only mention a few here. Most of the new features are related to customization and filtering, allowing you to better control what OS images are deployed and in what way they are deployed. For instance, WDS sports new install image filters and the ability to control which clients are able to boot from the PXE server.

New is WDSclient.exe, a standalone tool that you can use in scripts to perform Dynamic Driver Provisioning (DDP) queries, direct VHD application, and metadata queries. WDS now also supports standalone server mode, which allows you to deploy OS images without Active Directory. Also new is support of the .vhdx format, support for TFTP and multicasting over IPv6 and DHCPv6, eliminating the need for making a local copy of the install.wim file, ability to apply the install.wim file concurrently with the multicast download, improved driver import through filters and duplicate driver detection, and support of network booting of x86 clients with UEFI.

Windows Server 2012 - Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Windows Server 2012 - Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Server Manager

The main new features in Server Manager are multi-server support, Metro style dashboard, more customization options, filtering, and easier access to administration tasks through contextual menus. Windows Server 2012 Server Manager is able to collect information from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows Server 2012 - Server Manager

Windows Server 2012 - Server Manager

IP Address Management (IPAM)

IP Address Management (IPAM) is a general term that refers to management tasks that are related to tracking and planning the Internet Protocol address space in a network. In Windows Server 2012, Microsoft introduced a powerful new GUI tool, called IPAM Server, that helps you automate IPAM. The tool supports automatic IP address infrastructure discovery (DHCP servers, DNS servers, and domain controllers), custom IP address space display and reporting, auditing of server configuration changes, and management and monitoring of DHCP and DNS services.

Windows Server 2012 - IPAM

Windows Server 2012 - IPAM

DHCP Failover

DHCP Failover in Windows Server 2012 comes in two modes: Standby Mode and Load Sharing Mode. In Standby Mode, the secondary DHCP server only leases IP addresses when the primary DHCP server is down. In Load Sharing Mode, both DHCP servers issue IP addresses based on a configurable load distribution ratio.

Windows Server 2012 - DHCP Failover

Windows Server 2012 - DHCP Failover

Policy-based IP address assignment

DHCP servers running on Windows Server 2012 can assign IP addresses to clients based on various client criteria (vendor class, user class, MAC address, client identifier, or relay agent information).

Windows Server 2012 - Policy-based IP address assignment

Windows Server 2012 - Policy-based IP address assignment

Task Manager

The new Task Manager in Windows Server 2012 provides more information about running applications and processes in a revamped user interface.

Windows Server 2012 - Task Manager

Windows Server 2012 - Task Manager

In my next post I will discuss the new Windows Server 2012 storage features.

  1. Chris Wright (Cjwdev) 11 years ago

    I love most of the new features, the only one I absolutely hate is the Metro UI… it does not belong on a server!

  2. Chris, wait until the first admin tools with Live Tiles become available.

  3. Chris Wright (Cjwdev) 11 years ago

    Yeah I’m sure they will be nice n all but in my opinion they don’t make up for the lack of a start menu, hidden shut down options, generally ugly UI etc etc. Each to their own I guess, but judging from the massive amount of people complaining about it on the technet forums I’d say I’m not in the minority here

  4. Yeah, I know many are complaining. The lack of a start menu is my favorite new Windows feature. It is on my wish list already for a very long time. Last time I asked for it was in 2010.

    I never understood why MS reserved such a small portion of the screen for one of the most important functions of an OS: starting applications. Thus I really can’t understand these complaints.

    On the other hand, I still remember that many also complained when MS introduced the Windows 95 UI in Windows Server. Many admins were used to the Windows NT 3.51 UI and didn’t understand why a server OS needed to look like the UI of a gaming OS. I also complained because I believed that the Start Menu was a step in the wrong direction. 😉

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