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Screenshots: Windows Server 2012 RC

As Windows Server 2012 nears the finishing line, here's an update on the look and feel of the Release Candidate.
ws2012-servermanager.jpg
1 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

When you boot Windows Server 2012 RC for the first time, you'll see Server Manager, ready for you to configure your server. Server Manager, which is where you'll spend most of your time (unless you're using RSAT to control Server Core installations), wraps a set of PowerShell management tools in a Metro user interface.

Screenshots: Simon Bisson/ZDNet UK

ws2012-addrole.jpg
2 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Although you can add features to Windows Server 2012 one at a time, it's a lot easier to use the Add Role tool to quickly assemble and configure all the features needed to deliver a specific function — in this case, adding information rights management tools to a file server.

ws2012-localserver.jpg
3 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Server Manager is designed to provide one place to manage several servers, but you're going to want to drill down into a server to see how it's being configured, and to check that it's up to date and functioning normally. Important diagnostic information is always surfaced in the top level of Server Manager, but it's useful to get a fuller picture.

ws2012-startscreen.jpg
4 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Metro and WinRT may be at the heart of Windows 8 on the desktop, but they're purely adjuncts on the server. The charms and contracts are there, along with the Start Screen, but you're hardly likely to see them as you can manage much of a server from inside Server Manager or via PowerShell (or externally via RSAT and System Center).

ws2012-manremsvr.jpg
5 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Windows Server 2012 administrators can be given rights to work with other servers — either managing specific servers for a business function, or all the servers that have a set role. You can use the tools in Server Manager to handle all those servers, including remotely installing applications and features.

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6 of 6 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

A good way to start thinking about private clouds is to consolidate your storage. Windows Server 2012's Storage Pool tools can mix different types of storage and different sizes of disks into managed storage pools; these can be thin-provisioned and used with multiple copies of files and the new ReFS resilient file system for increased security.

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