Windows 10 Server Edition Technical Preview Pros & Cons

Windows 10 Server

Windows Server Technical Preview

With each new Windows release the desktop edition gets a lot of press coverage but what about the server editions? Let’s take a look at the server edition that was released along with the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

What Will the New Windows Server Edition be Called?

First, let’s talk about the name. At this time it’s not clear whether the new version will be called “Windows 10 Server,” or “Windows Server 2015,” or possibly something else. Microsoft currently uses the generic “Windows Server Technical Preview” which doesn’t give anything away. While we now have a confirmed name for the desktop edition, those of us on the server side of things will have to wait a bit longer.

What’s New in the Windows Server Technical Preview?

So what’s new in the Technical Preview? First, let’s be clear: The technical preview looks a lot like Windows Server 2012 R2, so if you’re like us and you’ve come to really love that release, you’re not going to be disappointed. Everything starting from setup and all the way through to the Server Manager looks pretty much identical as you can see in this screenshot.

Server Manager

Server Manager – 2012 R2 vs Technical Preview

Only the subtle changes to the task bar and Start Menu icon give away the fact that it’s 2012 R2 on the left and the Technical Preview on the right.

Back to the Start Menu

Speaking of the Start Menu, it’s now back in all its former glory. For some people this will be news that’s good enough to party like it’s 1995 again, but our take is the opposite. The Start Menu feels old and crammed. It takes a lot more clicks to get to basic items in the Administrative Tools and requires a ton of scrolling. Especially with the changes that came with the Windows 8.1 Update, we feel that the Start Screen is by far a better way to get fast access to key server management tools. The Technical Preview includes an option to switch back to the Start Screen and we’re pretty sure there’s a group policy for controlling this too, so users and organizations can choose which one works best for them.

Start Menu

The Return of the Start Menu

MultiPoint Services

When it comes to new functionality, it’s hard to spot but there are some interesting new items in the Server Manager. There’s a new role called MultiPoint Services. Its description says that it, “allows multiple users each with their own independent and familiar Windows experience to simultaneously share one computer.” That’s pretty vague and sounds a lot like Remote Desktop, but adding the role gives us more details and it’s pretty cool.

What MultiPoint Services lets you do is attach multiple monitors, keyboards and mice to one system and then have multiple people use the system. To each user it looks like they are using their own computer, but they’re actually sharing the resources of a single system. We don’t know what Microsoft has in mind for this, but it immediately sounds useful for shared work environments and kiosk systems.

Multi-Point Services

Multi-Point Services

Network Controller Role

Another new role is “Network Controller,” which is described as a “highly scalable and available application responsible for configuration, monitoring and diagnostics of all the networking elements in a datacenter.” In the features section there’s a new option called “Canary Network Diagnostics.” There’s not much to go on at this point, but it seems to be a low-level tool for network diagnostics at the hardware level.

New Technical Preview Runs Smoothly on FrameFlow Server Monitor

At a glance, that’s what you’ll find in the Technical Preview. Even at this early stage, it’s shaping up to be a solid update to a platform that’s already pretty amazing. We’ve been testing FrameFlow Server Monitor with it for a few weeks now and we can confirm that our software runs smoothly on the Technical Preview, and can easily monitor the Technical Preview from earlier versions of Windows.

Why Did Microsoft Skip ‘Windows 9’?

In our post called Windows 9? No, 10! What To Expect Tomorrow we predicted that the new version would be called “Windows 9” and we got that wrong like pretty much everyone else. So why did Microsoft skip 9? One rumor is based on a technical decision rather than a marketing one. The theory is that there is a lot of code out there that looks like this:

  if (windowsVersion.StartsWith("Windows 9") == true)
      print("This is Windows 95 or Windows 98");
  else
      print("This is a newer version of Windows");

We’re not 100% convinced about this, but it’s at least plausible. We’ll continue to monitor for any significant developments regarding the latest version of Windows Server Edition, including the final name that Microsoft eventually settles on, and keep you posted!