back to article Microsoft's Windows 8.1 updates also tweak Windows Server 2012

Microsoft made a stack of announcements last week and you could be excused for thinking they were all about Windows 8, Windows Phone and “universal apps”. But Redmond also made a few handy tweaks to Windows Server 2012 R2. It's easy to see why the Windows Server changes have been largely ignored. And I do mean see: here's the …


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  1. EvanPyle

    >(if someone happens to be doing server tasks from a touchscreen!)

    A surfacepro makes a great companion device for a sys admin, I use it daily.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. AdamFowler_IT

      What server tasks are you doing via touchscreen?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't need to reboot each time

    While each update "requires" a reboot, like most Windows updates these days they will happily chain install on each other with a single reboot at the end.

    Just cancel the reboot request, install the next update and reboot at the end of them all. I imagine the public release will likewise apply them in this same way.

    1. BlueGreen

      Re: Don't need to reboot each time

      Don't. Just don't give windows any excuse to mess up again. Just go for the reboot, it's only a couple of minutes each time, really just do it. If your way works 95% of the time I can guarantee that last 5% will cost you more than you ever save.

      (and the interface to server 2012 sucks like a pro. When you have to google how to reboot it becaues you've never done it before and it resembles nothing you've ever seen, and the other guy has forgotten how, then you have to open a command prompt... Dump it, MS)

      1. Norphy

        Re: Don't need to reboot each time

        "it's only a couple of minutes each time"

        On a desktop, maybe. On proper server hardware? You'd be going grey by the end of it...

      2. NogginTheNog
        Thumb Down

        Re: Don't need to reboot each time

        "One of the bigger complaints about Windows Server 2012 onward was the placement of the shutdown and restart options"

        I got to the point where for simplicity I placed a shortcut to Cmd Prompt on the desktop or task bar of any new 2012/R2 server so I could just open that and type "shutdown /s" (or "/r") as required!

        Yes I realise I could do the same thing with the PowerShell prompt, but that can take ages to initialise whatever it's initialising when you open it, whereas Cmd Prompt takes just a second or two to launch.

        1. Tim Jenkins

          Re: Don't need to reboot each time

          "Such a simple addition should cause less confusion to new Windows Server 2012 users"

          TBH, if your sysadmin can't find the way to restart or shut the thing down, however well hidden, then perhaps they're not the ideal person for that particular role. Maybe something like inventorising the office paperclip supplies...

          1. BlueGreen

            Re: Don't need to reboot each time @Tim Jenkins

            TBH if you work in a small company and you're the sql dev and the other guys are devs or business then a sysadmin is just an unaffordable fantasy.

            TBH many companies are like this.

            TBH if MS completely broke the interface to make basic tasks such as rebooting so obscure as to require googling then TBH MS got it wrong and TBH perhaps you could throw a little less blame at the people trying to use an unnecessarily screwed up interface.

            1. AdamFowler_IT

              Re: Don't need to reboot each time @Tim Jenkins

              Agree this is often the case. And even for a IT Pro dedicated SysAdmin, finding the shut down button for the first time on 2012 is not obvious.

          2. patrick_bateman

            Re: Don't need to reboot each time

            Totally correct!

            annoys me so much when i am asked simple questions that if you are in this role you should know already or alteast have the common sense to work it out yourself!!

        2. Yugguy

          Re: Don't need to reboot each time

          Heh - I have the same on the desktop of my Windows 8.1 laptop that apparantly never needs rebooting.

          It's called shutit.bat. It runs shutdown /r /t 00 for me.

          It also is quicker than waiting decades for powershell to load.

  3. MacGyver

    The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

    As you can see by the interface for the supposed professional operating system, that the end is near for Microsoft.

    Who has a touch screen on their KVMs, do they even make those? (they usually have sucky tiny trackballs for space)

    If you can manage a server with a touch screen then you are probably are doing something wrong or not doing something you should be.

    I mean really, how many good decisions could a company be making behind the scenes if they are releasing an OS designed to run at enterprise levels with the interface made for children and the elderly.

    Let me make it perfectly clear Microsoft, I don't log into a server to check my mail, look at the news, or because I want to know what the weather outside is. I'm also pretty sure that anything I search for on the server shouldn't be sent to Bing either (whole NDA and the like).

    I'm serious, who here is recommending Server 2012 to their company? (you don't get to answer if there are only 5 total people in your "company")

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

      People who are interested in the underlying server technology and don't really care what the UI looks like.....just a guess.

      1. AdamFowler_IT

        Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

        Agree here too. I'm recommending and using Server 2012 - if your reason for not recommending it is that you don't like the Tile interface which you can ignore almost all the time, then you shouldn't be recommending anything.

        Server 2012 has a huge amount of extras and improvements both under the hood, as well as actual tools/utilities/features.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

      I've said it before, and I'll say it again; ironically, despite it's Fisher-Price looks, the NewUI thingy actually works pretty well on Server2012; it makes finding esoteric admin tools quite a lot easier (typing 'acti' then hitting return is easier and faster than going through four levels of nested menus to find ADUC - then clicking on the wrong one because the user decided not to upgrade their ball mouse from twelve years ago).

      Other times, you just don't notice it very much. Surprisingly, it rarely gets in the way. I've not noticed any tools that go into NewUI fullscreen mode, either (which lets face it, is the really annoying part). Anyone know of any?

      My more major concern is the idea of rolling yearly major updates for a server OS. Strikes me as a bit...annoying. Hey kids, want a more secure network stack? You need to reboot your server three times to get it! Windows was never too hot to trot on that one anyway, though.

      Anyways, point is, Server2012 is not some weird hybrid of pain - it works pretty well. And I say that as someone who has a Mac for generally work use, a main Linux box at home, and who works on Windows Servers to pay the bills. They're all a bit shit sometimes, but calling out Server 2012 over a feature that genuinely isn't much of a problem (and has some fairly neat underlying features, as well as the awful-in-desktop-land-but-works-oddly-well-in-server-land UI) and people claiming that it is, most likely haven't used it in anger, or they'd see that for the most part, it just isn't a problem, strangely enough!

      Seriously, fire up a VM and have a deek, it's not as bad as you think it is, if you use it the way they intended. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a good feature, but it's not bad by any means.

      Now, the 'Windows will reboot upon logon in three days after installing updates' feature, that's annoying and I believe is the default option. Ugh. There's now a fix to stop it from rebooting outside of scheduled maintenance times, but that caused some grief for some of our clients. We know better than to trust Automatic Updates now though.

      You wanna be pissed at something, be pissed at stupid shit like that.

      Steven R

      1. MacGyver

        Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

        Why couldn't they have just left the GUI alone and improved the things we use, like the DHCP server role, the NPS server role. Or allowed new types of objects in AD or allow different views (organizational vs geographic), not just the same ones from 95. I mean really why can't they make it so that when you setup a DHCP server, that you can setup a backup, and have the databases sync, and have the failover be automatic? No, let's put tiles on the desktop. Why not have the NPS server be able to query the DHCP server, and if there is a reservation for a MAC in there, allow it access (a DHCP reservation based MAB). No, let's get rid of the start menu. The only thing NPS is good for is pawning off authentication to a real RADIUS server. Look how long it took them to put a "Convert to reservation" feature in the DHCP server. I can tell you, 10 years. 10 years we had to script that stupid task.

        The end is near, and good riddance.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

          I suspect that the people who decide UI implementation and the people who decide AD tool integration and functionality are not the same people.

          I agree though, I was gobsmacked the first time I right clicked a DHCP addy and there wasn't an option to just make it reserved - instead having to copy and paste the MAC addy over into a new reservation.

          I mean, hell, 90% of consumer routers support that sort of 'one click reservation' functionality, why can't a full blown, so called enterprise network service OS do it?

          Haven't tried in 2012 yet, or maybe I have, and I just don't remember it as it didn't stick out as much as it not working....etc.

        2. MisterBombastic

          Clearly The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

          I too pick my server OS based purely on the GUI.

      2. Jim Willsher

        Re: The beginning of the end of Microsoft.

        dsa.msc is even quicker

  4. southpacificpom


    The 90's just called, they want their GUI back...

  5. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I installed Win 8 on my home machine over the weekend*, and once it had updated to 8.1 and given a few hours for me to work out where stuff lives now, I think I'm ok with it.

    Mind you, I'm capable of learning a new GUI, which sounds like it's a massive problem for some people.

    * because I'm a masochist ok?

    1. Yugguy

      I once managed to ride the "unrideable" bicycle at a summer fair.

      The one where the pedals turn backwards and the handlebars are reversed so that to go left you turn right.


      1. Duke2010

        Funny except its not actually that bad Yugguy.

        Have you actually tried the 8.1 update or you just like to complain?

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "Mind you, I'm capable of learning a new GUI, which sounds like it's a massive problem for some people.

      It's an even massiver problem for the IT staff who have to support those people. Fortunately, if MS have *any* corporate direction right now, then it seems to be "baby steps every six months back to Win7". IIRC, there are two more 6-month cycles until Win7 drops out of normal support. They'll need to hurry up.

  6. IGnatius T Foobar

    Bad choice

    Microsoft has been going down the wrong road with Windows Server for more than two decades now. Server operating systems should not have GUI at all. Adding a touch-required UI makes it that much worse.

    The sad part is, Microsoft had a good server OS, and they ditched it. It was called Xenix.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad choice

      Which part of Server 2012 requires a touchscreen? Curious minds....

      1. MacGyver

        Re: Bad choice

        Requires? No. But from what I've seen, it appears they have conflicting styles mixed together. It's like someone was pointing a gun at the interface designer to make them try to design it for a 4" tablet, and they just couldn't do it. Being forced to look at a crappy touchscreen interface is just as bad as requiring a touchscreen.

        It. Is. a. poor. design. Do you honestly think that it is better this way? If not, then why defend something not better.

  7. AdamFowler_IT

    I'm surprised at the 'beginning of the end' comments. These updates are actually good updates, there's nothing negative about them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Animated popup menus and latency don't mix

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the obvious problem with the charms menu in a server OS, and hiding useful things in it. Pawing away at the edge of the screen with your mouse to get it to activate when you're using a laggy Java-based remote console on a slow connection (because the server is in a remote country and doesn't have RDP enabled) is pure torture. Sysadmins faced with such circumstances usually tend to learn keyboard shortcuts real fast. Not giving them visual clues for commonly-used functions is thoughtless at best.

    I'm all for the efficiency of consistency, but servers and desktops (and come to that, tablets and phones) are generally quite different use cases and MS could be forgiven for giving them different user experiences. But what do I know - homogeny looks like it is here to stay.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too much time vining

    Am I the only one to have read "Windows 8.1 updates Twerk Windows Server 2012"?

    OK I am, that's not good is it.

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