Windows Server 2012 Administration Overview

  • 9/15/2012

Getting to Know Windows Server 2012

The Windows Server 2012 operating system includes several different editions. All Windows Server 2012 editions support multiple processor cores. It is important to point out that although an edition might support only one discrete-socketed processor (also referred to as a physical processor), that one processor could have eight processor cores (also referred to as logical processors).

Windows Server 2012 is a 64-bit-only operating system. In this book, I refer to 64-bit systems designed for the x64 architecture as 64-bit systems. Because the various server editions support the same core features and administration tools, you can use the techniques discussed in this book regardless of which Windows Server 2012 edition you’re using.

When you install a Windows Server 2012 system, you configure the system according to its role on the network, as the following guidelines describe:

  • Servers are generally assigned to be part of a workgroup or a domain.
  • Workgroups are loose associations of computers in which each individual computer is managed separately.
  • Domains are collections of computers you can manage collectively by means of domain controllers, which are Windows Server 2012 systems that manage access to the network, to the directory database, and to shared resources.

Unlike Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012 uses a Start screen. Start is a window, not a menu. Programs can have tiles on the Start screen. Tapping or clicking a tile runs the program. When you press and hold or right-click on a program, an options panel normally is displayed. The charms bar is an options panel for Start, Desktop, and PC Settings. With a touch UI, you can display the charms by sliding in from the right side of the screen. With a mouse and keyboard, you can display the charms by moving the mouse pointer over the hidden button in the upper-right or lower-right corner of the Start, Desktop, or PC Settings screen; or by pressing Windows key+C.

Tap or click the Search charm to display the Search panel. Any text typed while on the Start screen is entered into the Search box in the Search panel. The Search box can be focused on Apps, Settings, or Files. When focused on Apps, you can use Search to quickly find installed programs. When focused on Settings, you can use Search to quickly find settings and options in Control Panel. When focused on Files, you can use Search to quickly find files.

One way to quickly open a program is by pressing the Windows key, typing the file name of the program, and then pressing Enter. This shortcut works as long as the Apps Search box is in focus (which it typically is by default).

Pressing the Windows key toggles between the Start screen and the desktop (or, if you are working with PC Settings, between Start and PC Settings). On Start, there’s a Desktop tile that you can tap or click to display the desktop. You also can display the desktop by pressing Windows key+D or, to peek at the desktop, press and hold Windows key+Comma. From Start, you access Control Panel by tapping or clicking the Control Panel tile. From the desktop, you can display Control Panel by accessing the charms, tapping or clicking Settings, and then tapping or clicking Control Panel. Additionally, because File Explorer is pinned to the desktop taskbar by default you typically can access Control Panel on the desktop by following these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer by tapping or clicking the taskbar icon.
  2. Tap or click the leftmost option button (down arrow) in the address list.
  3. Tap or click Control Panel.

Start and Desktop have a handy menu that you can display by pressing and holding or right-clicking the lower-left corner of the Start screen or the desktop. Options on the menu include Command Prompt, Command Prompt (Admin), Device Manager, Event Viewer, System, and Task Manager. On Start, the hidden button in the lower-left corner shows a thumbnail view of the desktop when activated, and tapping or clicking the thumbnail opens the desktop. On the desktop, the hidden button in the lower-left corner shows a thumbnail view of Start when activated and tapping or clicking the thumbnail opens Start. Pressing and holding or right-clicking the thumbnail is what displays the shortcut menu.

Shutdown and Restart are options of Power settings now. This means to shut down or restart a server, you follow these steps:

  1. Display Start options by sliding in from the right side of the screen or moving the mouse pointer to the bottom right or upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap or click Settings and then tap or click Power.
  3. Tap or click Shut Down or Restart as appropriate.

Alternatively, press the server’s physical power button to initiate an orderly shutdown by logging off and then shutting down. If you are using a desktop-class system and the computer has a sleep button, the sleep button is disabled by default, as are closing the lid options for portable computers. Additionally, servers are configured to turn off the display after 10 minutes of inactivity.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 support the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) 5.0 specification. Windows uses ACPI to control system and device power state transitions, putting devices in and out of full-power (working), low-power, and off states to reduce power consumption.

The power settings for a computer come from the active power plan. You can access power plans in Control Panel by tapping or clicking System And Security and then tapping or clicking Power Options. Windows Server 2012 includes the Power Configuration (Powercfg.exe) utility for managing power options from the command line. At a command prompt, you can view the configured power plans by typing powercfg /l. The active power plan is marked with an asterisk.

The default, active power plan in Windows Server 2012 is called Balanced. The Balanced plan is configured to do the following:

  • Never turn off hard disks (as opposed to turning off hard disks after a specified amount of idle time)
  • Disable timed events to wake the computer (as opposed to enabling wake on timed events)
  • Enable USB selective suspend (as opposed to disabling selective suspend)
  • Use moderate power savings for idle PCI Express links (as opposed to maximum power savings being on or off)
  • Use active system cooling by increasing the fan speed before slowing processors (as opposed to using passive system cooling to slow the processors before increasing fan speed)
  • Use minimum processor and maximum processor states if supported (as opposed to using a fixed state)