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Interesting Articles

Useful information related to Microsoft and their products

If you have any comments, reaction or contributions to the articles below, please feel free to contact us with your views.


Interesting Articles - Microsoft

Here are a collection of interesting articles related to Microsoft and their products. If you have any comments or reaction to these articles, please feel free to contact us with your views.

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back to topWindows 2008 Server: What’s new?

Windows 2008 Server is more than just the next logical release of Windows 2003 Server. It contains a range of new functionality designed to increase control and manageability, provide high availability, and have more flexibility for the changing business needs of its users.

Specific new areas:

Server Virtualisation (Hyper-V) – a method of reducing overall IT costs by consolidating servers, centralising network management, increasing network security and reliability, and providing enhanced scalability to help control hardware budgets.  » More ...

Improved Internet Information Services (IIS 7.0) – new graphical management tools, enhanced diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities, delegated website administration, shared configuration files with ASP.NET and Xcopy website deployment.  » More …

Windows 2008 Server Core - Allows administrators to install a minimal installation of Windows Server by choosing specific functionality without any unneeded features.  » More …

Windows Server Manager - Simplifies and centralises server management through a single MMC console, allowing administrators to view and manage all of the tools that affect server productivity.  » More …

Read Only Domain Controllers - Designed to be installed in locations where physical security for the domain controller cannot be guaranteed, such as branch offices.  » More …

Network Access Protection (NAP) - Provides a set of client and server side components and services that prevents non-compliant computers from accessing and compromising an organisation’s network.  » More …

Cryptography Next Generation (CNG) - Performs important cryptographic operations, such as creating hashes and encrypting and decrypting data, as well as creation, storage, and retrieval of cryptographic keys.  » More …

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - Provides a simplified, secure means of rapidly deploying Windows operating systems to computers by using network-based installation, without the need for an administrator to work directly on each computer, or to install Windows components from CD or DVD media. Replaces Remote Installation Services (RIS) from previous server versions.  » More …

Group Policy Preferences - Allows organisations to deploy managed settings to create configurations that are more compatible with their IT environment and that are specifically tailored to how its people use their computers.  » More …

There is more information about all of the new and upgraded features of Windows Server 2008 on this page of Microsoft’s website.

back to topSQL Server 2008: What new security/continuity features are there?

SQL Server 2008 builds on the success of the 2005 product by adding a raft of new and upgraded features.  In this article we will highlight just the new features related to security and system continuity.

Information on other feature areas can be found from this page.

Specific new security/continuity capabilities:

Transparent Data Encryption - encryption of an entire database, data files, or log files, without any need for application changes.  The benefits of this include the ability to search encrypted data using both range and fuzzy searches and to search secure data from unauthorised users.

Extensible Key Management – support of third-party key management and HSM products.

Auditing – the ability to create and manage auditing via DDL with simplified compliance management through providing more comprehensive data auditing.

Enhanced Database Mirroring - enhanced database mirroring, including automatic page repair, improved performance, and enhanced supportability.

Automatic Recovery of Data Pages - enables the principal and mirror machines to transparently recover from 823/824 types of data page errors.

Log Stream Compression - compression of the outgoing log stream between database mirroring participants delivers optimal performance and minimises the network bandwidth.

Resource Governor - allowing organisations to define resource limits and priorities for different workloads, which enable concurrent workloads to provide consistent performance to their end users.

Predictable Query Performance - functionality to lock down query plans, enabling organisations to promote stable query plans across hardware server replacements, server upgrades, and production deployments.

Data Compression – compression provides significant performance improvements for large I/O bound workloads, like data warehousing.

Hot Add CPU - dynamically scale a database on demand by allowing CPU resources to be added to SQL Server 2008 on supported hardware platforms without forcing any downtime on applications. This is in addition to the ability to add dynamically memory resources online.

There is more information about all of the new and upgraded features of SQL Server 2008 on the Microsoft website, including this page on how to plan an upgrade to 2008.

back to topPHP in Windows 2008: A new focus

Microsoft is committed to offering the best possible Web experience to developers and that includes solutions developed in PHP. The company has been very active in this area recently;

  • Microsoft has been working closely with the PHP.NET community, making technical contributions to widely-used PHP projects, such as the ADOdb database library
  • Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7.0 provides an open platform for hosting ASP.NET and PHP applications from a single server, using a common set of administrative tools for management
  • The release of SQL Server Driver for PHP v1.0 makes it easier to use SQL Server as your database of choice for PHP applications. Get the source code for the driver posted from CodePlex, Microsoft's open source project hosting site
  • Microsoft Expression Web 2.0 gives you powerful design tools and task panes to design for ASP.NET, PHP, and XML. Open and edit PHP pages directly in Expression Web 2.0 and apply the full range of standards-based design tools to PHP
  • The Windows Web Application Gallery provides streamlined ways for users to explore, discover, and install ASP.NET, PHP, and Open Source Web applications on the Windows Web Platform. It also provides a simple way for developers to offer their applications to millions of Windows users worldwide

To help PHP developers better understand how the Microsoft environment can be beneficial they have set up four Virtual Labs that provide in-depth information;

back to topWeb Platform Installer: making Windows server components easier to install

Many organisations want to use their VPS as a web server. There are numerous different web servers, applications, languages etc. out there and the choice can be confusing.

Installing different components and getting them to interact can be even more confusing!

To try to help with this, Microsoft have developed Web Platform Installer 2.0. The Web Platform Installer (WebPI) allows users to select and install various web-related components onto their server at the same time, so they are configured correctly to work together.

Some of the components that can be installed are:

  • SQL Server Express
  • PHP 5.2
  • DotNetNuke
  • Silverlight
  • Wordpress
  • Plus many more! - more applications and components are being added all the time.

The WebPI also downloads and installs all the necessary run-time components for these features to work. See this page for more information.

Proud of your web creation? – show it off at the Windows Web Application Gallery, share your experiences with other developers and the world. You can access the Windows Web Application Gallery here.

Need even more information? - this page provides links to lots of information relating to the WebPI, Gallery and the various components.

All new RapidHost Virtual Private Servers include WebPI as standard.

back to topBing: Taking on Google

On May 28 2009, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced their new, long awaited, and much leaked, search engine to take on Google. Bing, previously known as Kumo, was announced along with a plethora of related services, including Bing Travel, Bing Cashback and Bing Maps for Enterprise. To differentiate it from Google, Microsoft are insisting that Bing is a 'decision enginre' rather than a 'search engine'.

“Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don’t do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web. Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they’ve found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions.”

Early reports from the press are positive.  According to ComputerWorld, "The service is designed to offer pop-up windows that will summarise the information on a Web site to save the user from clicking in only to find it's not what they need. The site also is set up to organise search results with navigation and search tools on the left-hand side of the page, as well as offering up different categories of results and even the user's sought-after information on the search results page."

You can try Bing for yourself here.


back to topRapidHost: Feature on Microsoft Web Site

Iain Robertson, RapidHost Limited Managing Director, has been featured on Microsoft's web site as part of their global publicity for the hosted Windows environment.  Entitled "Delivering Microsoft Brand Confidence to Web Hosting Customers" the article is available from here.