IIS7 Added to Server Core

Microsoft has added another "core" product, one that will make Web hosting companies and Web farm administrators happy: Internet Information Services 7.0 is now available as a server core installation on Windows Server 2008.

When Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Server and Tools, made the announcement during the opening keynote of Microsoft's TechEd conference in Orlando Monday, he received applause from the audience.

Server core technology represents a new, modular approach by Microsoft with Windows 2008. It allows the installation of only the necessary components for a specific server role, rather than a large, default installation that takes up much more space. Not only is the install much lighter, but the smaller footprint also means a whittled down attack surface for malware. Other server core roles include DHCP, DNS, file server, virtualization and domain controller.

Microsoft's Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server Division, said the addition of IIS7 to the server core lineup was spurred by users.

"This is a direct result of feedback we received from customers and partners. In fact, it was pretty much the No. 1 request," Laing said in a press release.

Installing IIS7 as a server core does bring with it some compromises, however. Bill Staples, who leads the Web server engineering team, stated on his blog that three particular areas of functionality are lost:

  • No GUI administration tools. These tools are absent because the server core lacks the Windows shell. That includes IIS manager, the IIS admin tool. Staples points out that "The IIS [command-line] tool, AppCmd.exe, as well as our WMI and COM APIs work just fine, however, and now that IIS configuration is all stored in config files, you can obviously edit them by hand as well."
  • No .NET Framework, so ASP.NET is out. Staples says the .NET team at Microsoft is working on adding .NET to the server core. That would add a bit of irony, since the idea of server core is to strip out all nonessential functionality and services.
  • Not having .NET has a domino effect on remote administration, since the service that handles HTTP remote administration and delegation relies on .NET.

IIS7 was first introduced a few months ago with Windows Vista. The IIS7 server core is available now, by downloading Windows Server 2008 beta 3. It can be deployed under Microsoft's "Go Live" license at no cost.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].