Recently I've been faced with the task of helping somebody with a network of Mac computers, that have Windows servers. They have both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, and are looking to migrate and upgrade to Windows Server 2008 across the board. Unfortunately, we've run into a roadblock which has turned into a huge headache with the file servers. We've discovered that Services for Macintosh that has been on Windows Server for over a decade and a half, is being mysteriously dropped in Windows Server 2008.
Reading around on this subject, and you will find that everybody says to use Samba. This sounds all well and good, however it just has too many problems and flat out doesn't work reliably. When connecting from any Macintosh (running Leopard, Snow Leopard, doesn't matter) to the Windows 2008 server using Samba, we've encountered various permissions issues. The worst problem is with creating and saving files in Adobe CS3/CS4 applications, where users can open files but not save them, and need to save with a new file name. None of these problems happened before when accessing the shares on Windows Server 2003 that had Services for Macintosh installed. So, we are faced with 3 possibilities: Stay on Windows Server 2003, pay for an expensive 3rd party software package to run on top of the Windows file servers that will enable Apple AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), or look at using Linux with the netatalk service. From experience, netatalk on Linux is rock solid, and fully supports Apple AFP flawlessly. It's an amazing piece of software, and this wouldn't be the first time that Linux has picked up the slack that Windows left hanging behind. But unfortunately in this situation, there's the issue of training the local IT personnel to use the Linux server. At the moment, we are not sure which path to take, so for now they will continue using Windows Server 2003 for Mac file sharing.
Why would Microsoft simply drop a feature like this? Especially when there is no solid solution to replace it? If they want customers to use Windows Server, then wouldn't they want it compatible with everything else? I've seen that other services were also dropped with Windows Server 2008 as well, like services for Netware. I can understand that, but I don't understand why Services for Macintosh were dropped, considering Apple's increasing market share and Macs becoming more and more common.