Major differences between Windows server 2008R2 and 2012


Major differences between Windows server 2008R2 and 2012

         When compared to Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 makes optimum use of the power, resources while taking security factors into the consideration. Companies have already preferred virtual platform over a physical one when it comes to money. Windows Server 2012 delivers flexibility, scalability, availability to work with the virtualized environment. The article written below lists the prominent comparison factors for these 2 server operating systems.

Hardware Specifications

Maximum hardware specification with windows Server 2012 provides 4x more physical memory, 5x more logical processor support, and 4 x more virtual processor support per host. It is capable to handle more workload with high hardware specification as compared to Windows Server 2008 R2.

Operating System Releases

To improve the performance and scalability, Windows server 2008 R2 have migrated to 64-bit operating system. However, using the WoW64 emulator it has become possible to run 32 bit applications on a 64 bit platform. Server core installation of Windows Server 2008R2 supports WoW64 as an optional feature.  Windows Server 2012 is a completely 64-bit operating system.

Server core, a minimal installation option, was introduced in Windows server 2008 to support installation of only certain server roles. It cannot be used as a platform for running server applications such as Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, or third-party server applications like SAP; however, applications not dependant on the GUI such as antivirus agents, System management agents can be installed on Server core. Server core consumes less storage space, less memory with minimum servicing and management required. Chances of potential attacks are less with the Server Core option.

In Windows Server 2012, transition is possible between Server with a GUI (equivalent of the Full installation option available in Windows Server 2008 R2) and Server Core installation options without any need to reinstall an operating system.

PowerShell is a Windows command line shell and scripting language designed especially for the system administration. Instead of spending lot of time on repetitive tasks, you can write scripts to be executed automatically after a specified interval of time. This way, Powershell scripts come handy to automate tedious system administration tasks.

Basically, PowerShell is a powerful platform to configure, manage, and monitor majority of operating system services in much more efficient way.

Windows Server 2012 supports PowerShell 3.0 whereas Windows Server 2008 R2 employs PowerShell 2.0. Version 3.0 includes more number of commands, called cmdlets as compared to 2.0 to extend its use, improve its usability, and allow you to control and manage Windows-based environments more easily and comprehensively. PowerShell commands play an important role while switching from Server Core to Server with a GUI and vice versa in Windows Server 2012.

Failover Clustering feature creates or manages failover clusters. A failover cluster is a group of independent computers (called nodes) where, if one of the cluster servers fails, other starts to provide service. In Windows Server 2008R2, maximum 16 nodes are permitted in a cluster whereas maximum 64 nodes are allowed in a cluster for Windows Server 2012.

Security features

As far as security is concerned, 2012 release is an ace over 2008 R2; it includes security features such as BitLocker, AppLocker, and many more. AppLocker helps administrators control/decide which users or groups should be given authority to run particular applications or files.

On the other hand, BitLocker is a drive encryption feature to protect a lost/stolen computer from an unauthorized access.

AppLocker was introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2; however in Windows Server 2012, it is present with lot more improvements. For example, an AppLocker add-on – Ability to set rules for packaged apps and packaged app installers, is absent in Windows Server 2008 R2.  In Windows Server 2012, AppLocker rules can control 2 additional file formats .mst and .appx over Windows Server 2008 R2.

In Windows Server 2008 R2, entire disk is encrypted when BitLocker is enabled; whereas Windows Server 2012 lets you choose to encrypt the entire disk or just the used space on the disk when BitLocker is enabled.

Windows Server 2012 supports BitLocker on Fiber Channel and iSCSI drives. With Windows Server 2012, it is now possible to use drives with built-in hardware encryption (often called Self-encrypting drives or SEDs) as the boot drive.

New features such as ability for standard users to change their PINS, Network Unlock- that allows for automatic unlocking of BitLocker-protected drives during reboot when the computer is connected to the wired corporate network and Cluster Shared Volume Support are introduced in BitLocker version for Windows Server 2012.

Application Enhancements with Internet Information Services (IIS)

Windows Server 2012 supports IIS 8.0 web server role whereas IIS 7.5 is available on the Windows Server 2008R2.

IIS feature – CPU throttling allows server administrators to limit CPU, memory, and bandwidth usage by each application pool in a multitenant environment. IIS 8 adds 2 new options to this feature namely, “Throttle” which reduces the amount of CPU being used by the process and it’s child processes; and “ThrottleUnderLoad” where process is allowed to utilize as much free resources as it wants, but as the resources become limited, process is throttled back.

From the security point of view, IIS 8.0 is a step ahead of IIS 7.5 as it includes features such as Dynamic IP Restrictions and FTP Logon Attempt Restrictions.

Dynamic IP Restrictions restricts IP addresses that flood the server with requests exceeding the specified number.

FTP Logon Attempts Restriction specifies the maximum number of failed/unsuccessful logon attempts to the FTP server in the specified time period. When a user reaches this number, FTP server access is denied for that particular IP address until the service has been restarted. This feature can be used to prevent brute-force attacks.

File and Storage features

Windows Server 2012 comes with a brand new feature called Data Duplication. To save the disk space, only one copy of a file is saved by removing its duplicate copies in the user accounts. Exact same copies are replaced by pointers that point back to the original file. This leads to the storage space optimization.

Another important feature supported by Windows Server 2012 is Live storage migration where you are able to move virtual machine’s storage while the virtual machine is running.

In the storage area, Windows Server 2012 has come up with a new virtual hard disk format, i.e. VHDX that protects against the data corruption during power failures, and supports larger storage capacity (up to 64 TB).

NFS (Network File System): Network File System protocol provides file sharing solution for enterprises that have heterogeneous environment comprising Windows and non-windows computers. For example, a user can transfer files from a computer running Windows operating system to a Linux/Unix based computer using NFS protocol.

Windows Server 2012 has come up with NFS 4.1, which was absent in Windows Server 2008 R2. NFS 4.1 increases security, performance over NFS version 3.

Hyper-V features

Windows server 2012 is more inclined towards virtualization to save the storage space, to offer capabilities such as live migration, storage migration, high availability, fault tolerance and distributed resource scheduling.

Live migration enables migration of running virtual machines from one physical server to another without service downtime. In Windows Server 2008R2, Live migration requires the failover clustering role to be added and configured on the server running Hyper-V.

Windows Server 2012 has brought following modifications to the live migration feature.

  • Faster and simultaneous migration
  • Live migration is possible in a non-clustered environment

On the security side, Microsoft adds features such as DHCP guard, router guard and many more to the Hyper-V virtual switch that is available in Hyper-V manager when you install Hyper-V role.

DHCP guard prevents server messages from the unauthorized VMs pretending to be DHCP servers; whereas Router guard protects against router advertisements and redirection messages from the rouge routers.

Let’s take a glance over differences between Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows server 2012

windows server 2008r2 vs 2012


Feature differences

The evolution of Windows Server

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