Windows Server 8 beta review
By Computerworld staff | Computerworld US | Published: 19:02, 01 March 2012
At the time of the first technical preview of Windows Server 8 back in September 2011, I was very optimistic. The capabilities that were slated for inclusion in the release were outstanding and really changed the game for Windows administrators.
With this beta, a lot of that potential now is in the box and working, although with some warts, as you'd expect from beta software. All of that will get worked out as the teams build towards final release.
Overall, though, I'm kind of surprised at some of the design decisions that have gone into the user experience for this server OS. Specifically, I don't agree at all with the Metro UI being default with Windows Server 8. It's a great design language and it enables some really useful scenarios for managing via the standard administration tools like Server Manager, but as a desktop metaphor, I think it's not useful to change the paradigm so many server admins expect.
To my mind, it doesn't add value. In many places, the OS feels like a mixture of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and some Windows 8 Metro preview bits. It doesn't feel cohesive, and on quite a few screens in particular, it's just plain ugly.
At this stage in the game, I think you have to consider Windows Server 8 in two respects. As a platform of capabilities and technical advancements, it's superb. But from an overall user experience and design point of view, particularly for traditional, dyed-in-the-wool Windows administrators, it's jarring.
I'll reserve total judgment for the final release, but let's hope Microsoft takes a few steps back and considers that what's best for servers and data centers isn't always shiny new objects like they're giving the client.
Microsoft's key to success: solid technical advances delivered simply and effectively. The right ingredients are here, but how good of a soup they end up making is something we will all have to wait to see.