The next major version of Windows Server has been on a slow burn for years. The story of this product, which, like Windows Vista, is codenamed Longhorn, does indeed have its origins alongside Microsoft's recently released client operating system (see my Windows Vista review). But though Windows Server "Longhorn," or Longhorn Server as I call it, has suffered through the same delays as did Vista, there have been few complaints. Part of that can be attributed to the nature of the server market: Microsoft's corporate customers simply aren't clamoring for new Windows versions at the same pace as does the company's enthusiast and consumer users. But that's not the entire reason. Unlike the Windows client team, the Windows Server team has been open about its release delivery schedule and has largely delivered on that schedule over the past several years. At this moment, then, Longhorn Server is pretty much on schedule, though the final release could ship several months later than originally expected. No need to queue the alarmist headlines, folks. No one cares.
Longhorn Server Beta 3, released just last week, exemplifies the "slow and steady" mantra adopted by the Windows Server folks at Microsoft. It follows a Beta 2 release in May 2006, just about a year ago, and a July 2005 Beta 1 release which was, yep, was just about a year before that. Microsoft still expects to ship the final version of Longhorn Server in late 2007. By that time, the product will have been in active development for over three years. But don't think that these guys have been sitting still. After releasing Windows Server 2003 (see my review) in April 2003, Microsoft shipped a slew of add-on Feature Packs followed by an interim release, Windows Server 2003 R2 (see my review), in December 2005. And looking back on my bit about schedules, these releases do indeed meet Microsoft's goal of shipping new Server versions every other year. And every other one of these releases--Windows Server 2003, Longhorn Server--are major product updates, whereas the interim releases--Windows Server 2003 R2 and a 2009-era product currently codenamed Longhorn Server R2--are minor updates.
So everything is just hunky-dory in the Windows Server world, right? Well, not exactly. A key component of Longhorn Server--arguably THE key component--called Windows Server Virtualization (codenamed Viridian) won't ship until at least 180 days after Longhorn Server (though it will be made available to Longhorn customers for free). And the first beta of that technology, originally due in the first half of 2007, was recently delayed six months until the second half of the year, though Microsoft insists this delay won't impact the schedules for Longhorn or Viridian. We'll see. Meanwhile, Beta 3 itself was delayed a few times, though again no one was really complaining, and while it's just chock full of new and improved features (see my showcase, Top 10 Features in Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 3, for a comprehensive run-down of my favorites), this major milestone release still feels somewhat performance-challenged, as if the debugging shackles have yet to be removed. Microsoft still has many months to bring this all together, and the maturity of some of the technologies we're seeing in Beta 3 suggests that they're going to pull it off. Beta 3 is near-feature-complete, but there are going to be more changes before Longhorn Server is finalized, methinks, and I'm curious to see when the ever-shifting feature set for this complex product will be pinned down.
In the meanwhile, here's Beta 3. It's big and full of new, improved, and previously-existing features. It's the most advanced, secure, and functional version of Windows Server yet created, and it is indeed the major release that Microsoft claims. As Fred Sanford used to say, "This is the big one!" Let's take a look.
Major changes in Longhorn Server
It's been a while since Beta 2, so I think it makes sense to take a high-level look at what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with the next version of Windows Server. Like Windows Vista, Longhorn Server is built on newly componentized underpinnings. This long-awaited architectural change affords even more benefits on the server than it does on the client. Here's why: Now, when you configure a server for a specific workload (or any number of workloads) only the exact features needed are installed. And those features are installed as securely as possible, automatically. This creates a smaller and lighter--and by extension, more secure--system with a reduced attack surface.
This new componentized architecture reveals itself in numerous ways throughout the product. Setting up Server--whether in the new Server Core mode (see below) or in a more traditional installation--is now vastly simplified compared to previous Windows Server versions, with no more babysitting during an interactive install. You just pop in the disk, type in the Product Key and then walk away for 20 minutes. When you come back, you can use the new Initial Configuration Tasks application to configure the server for whatever roles and features you may want (Figure).
Roles and features
Server roles, especially, are dramatically richer than in previous Windows Server versions. First, there are more of them: 18, compared to just 7 in Windows Server 2003. These roles include Active Directory Certificate Services, Active Directory Domain Services, Active Directory Federation Services, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services, Active Directory Rights Management Services, DHCP Server, DNS Server, Fax Server, File Services, Network Policy and Access Services, Print Server, Terminal Services, UDDI Services, Web Server, Windows Deployment Services, Windows Media Services, Windows SharePoint Services, and Windows Server Virtualization. (That last one is not available in Beta 3.) See Top 10 Features in Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 3 for a complete rundown of these roles.
In addition to being more numerous, roles are also more intelligent in Longhorn Server. Though you could use Manage Your Server to install roles in Windows Server 2003 and then securely configure those roles with the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) starting in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Longhorn Server takes this approach to the next logical place. Roles are now configured as securely as possible by default, and all of the management tools are aware of the underlying security architecture, so that the entire system--including firewall ports, hardened services, and other technologies--all work in concert. Yes, you can still go into an individual MMC (Microsoft Management Console) and misconfigure a security feature if you really wanted to. But just changing a role configuration won't necessitate another trip down SCW lane. If you stick with the roles-based infrastructure, you'll find that your system is as secure as possible given the functionality you require.
Longhorn Server also supports something called features. Features are, as the name suggests, additional features that you can add to a Longhorn Server installation. There are 35 of them in Beta 3, and they run the gamut from developer features like the .NET Framework 3 to a Desktop Experience package that adds frivolous Vista features like the Aero UI, Windows Media Player, and Windows Photo Gallery. Some major new bits of Longhorn functionality, like BitLocker full disk encryption and the Windows PowerShell, are installed as features, and many Longhorn features will be installed automatically as required as you configure roles.
Roles and features, and a great number of other useful Longhorn Server management attributes, can be viewed and configured via the new Server Manager (Figure). This hugely useful management tool will become daily management utility for many a Windows admin in the years ahead. And that's good news, because Server Manager is nicely designed. At its heart, Server Manager is basically just a custom MMC console that Microsoft designed to answer the needs of most admins. (Put another way, it's the sort of thing admins used to manually create for themselves after they got tired of loading individual MMCs to configure various server features.) It includes sections for each installed role and feature, plus links to diagnostic tools, configuration tools, and storage tools.
But don't be fooled: Server Manager isn't just an amalgamation of individual tools. In addition to collecting the most-often-needed admin tools into a single place, Server Manager also provides unique HTML-like home pages, both for the entire server and for individual roles. So if you click on the Active Directory Domain Services link in the MMC tree view (assuming that role is installed), for example, you'll get a handy home page (Figure) and not a view of the sub-folders available under that node in the tree. And that home page is bursting full with useful information, including summary and status information like a dashboard, yes, but also functional links. For example, you can start and stop the AD service from that home page, debug errors, and access a handy list of resources and support documents. This console is the result of years of feedback and its shows.
And speaking of responding to feedback, Longhorn Server will include a special installation type called Server Core that might just be the most eagerly-awaited Server feature ever. Server Core is a new minimal install of Longhorn Server that drops all the unnecessary stuff--including the Windows GUI, no less--in order to provide you with the smallest, most secure possible server imaginable (Figure): You get a command line and not much else. Now, you can't do everything with Server Core that you can with a full Longhorn Server install, of course, but the subset of Longhorn Server features that are available in this environment is impressive. You get 7 "core" server roles--or 8, once Windows Server Virtualization ships (see below). These include Active Directory, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services, DHCP, DNS, File, Print, and Windows Media Services. Notably missing, of course, is Web server. The reason is that Internet Information Services (IIS, see below) requires the .NET Framework, which in turn requires the Windows GUI. (This limitation also means that you can't run the PowerShell in Server Core.) Microsoft says it is looking into creating a .NET Framework subset that drops the GUI stuff but will enable Server Core functionality like IIS and PowerShell. It's unlikely we'll see this until post-Longhorn, however.
Server Core also supports a subset of the Longhorn Server optional features, including Backup, Bitlocker, failover clustering, Multipath IO, Network Load Balancing, Removable Storage, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Subsystem for UNIX-based applications, Telnet client, and Windows Internet Name Service (WINS). That's right, WINS. Microsoft is never going to be able to get rid of WINS.
Speaking of blasts from the past, if you're not intimately familiar with the legacy Windows command line shell--and I suspect that many Windows admins are not--then you're going to need to do some boning up on command line basics. (I recommend Microsoft Press' Microsoft Windows Command-Line Administrators Pocket Consultant.) For me, using Server Core is like going to the gym after a few years off and finding out how painful it is to awaken long-dormant muscles. Oh, right: You can use set to discover a wide range of information about the current machine and net user to create and change local user accounts. That stuff was sitting in the same part of my mind that recalls what my second grade teacher looked like. It's been a while.
Microsoft does provide a couple of Server Core-specific command line tools that are of interest. A Server Core-specific version of dcpromo is used to configure the server as an AD domain controller (whether you're adding it to an existing domain or starting a new domain), but you have to feed it an unattended install script: There's no GUI, as there is in more traditional Server versions. And a new tool called oclist will let you install and configure Server Core roles and features (Figure). (Well, all of them except ADDS.)
I should note that a very small handful of GUI tools are actually available in Server Core. You can launch good ol' Notepad via the command line, and starting in Beta 3, Microsoft has even added a legacy version of the Open/Save file dialog boxes to make it work better (Figure). And Task Manager (Figure) is available too: Just tap CTRL + ALT + DEL and choose it from the secure desktop that appears (Figure). This secure desktop can be used to change (and create) the local Administrator password too, but I'm sure you already used net user for that, right? Right.
Of course, Server Core will typically be used on headless servers. And that's just fine, because you don't have to log on interactively to administer these machines. After all, Server Core is still Longhorn Server. You can remotely hit a Server Core machine using Terminal Services or the new Windows Remote Shell (in both cases via the command line) or using the standard GUI tools that ship with any Longhorn Server. And that final option, I suspect, is the one that most Windows admins will ultimately choose. But there's one other wrinkle: Some key functionality--like configuring automatic updates, enabling Remote Administration, and so forth--cannot be managed via a command line or via the management GUIs remotely. So Microsoft provides a script called scregedit.wsf for managing these features. There's always something.
Longhorn Server includes an enormous number of long-awaited improvements to Terminal Services, Microsoft's technology for delivering server-based Windows applications to Windows-based PCs and other devices over a network. These changes almost universally require a new Remote Desktop version (6.0), which ships with both Longhorn and Windows Vista and can be downloaded for Windows Server 2003 with SP1 (and higher) and Windows XP with SP2
From a core features standpoint, Terminal Services now supports 32-bit color displays, high-resolution and wide aspect ratio displays, and even monitor spanning. You can cut and paste between remote sessions and the local desktop. Printing to remote and local printers from within applications in remote sessions is now seamless thanks to the aptly named Terminal Services Easy Print. And a new Desktop Experience feature will provide much of Vista's unique visual experiences over the remote Terminal Services connections, including the Aero visual theme
There are a few major enhancements too. A new Terminal Services Gateway feature allows organizations to implement Terminal Services on the edge of their network and deliver remote sessions securely over the Internet using HTTPS. The advantage here is that there's no need to configure a complicated VPN connection.
Additionally, administrators can now deploy individual applications, instead of complete remote environments, via Terminal Services RemoteApp. Aside from the initial logon, remotely deployed applications are largely indistinguishable from local applications, and will typically include the OS-specific "chrome," or window borders that are utilized by locally running applications. Sure, this is a feature Citrix has had for some time, but it's nice to see it finally implemented in Terminal Services as well.
Branch Office features
Continuing the basic branch office improvements that marked Windows Server 2003 R2, Longhorn Server includes a number of technologies that will make it easier than ever to securely deploy and manage servers in remote sites. Chief among these is the aforementioned Server Core feature, which can work in tandem with other Longhorn Server technologies, like Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) and BitLocker full drive encryption, to deliver server installs that can withstand both electronic attacks and physical theft.
Read-Only Domain Controller is specifically designed for domain controllers (DCs) that are installed in remote offices where physical security is questionable or non-existent. With current versions of Windows Server, you don't have much choice if you need to deploy a DC to such a place: A DC is a DC, and even those installed in remote locations will include a replicated copy of the entire AD database, including the entire environment's collection of user names and passwords. And aside from the obvious security issues, these DCs often connect to the home office via slow or unreliable WAN connections, resulting in miserable performance for the users that must utilize them.
RODC is a special domain controller install type--triggered via a single check box in the Add Server Roles wizard--in which the AD database is read-only and replication is unidirectional. An RODC only stores passwords for the non-administrator users who logon locally (that is, within physical proximity to the RODC at the branch office). If the server is stolen and the hard drive is removed, hackers will only be able to steal the user names and passwords for that handful of users that logged in locally, and not the entire collection of AD users. Resetting those passwords and deleting the RODC from the directory is a simple, one-dialog affair (Figure), and you won't have to put your entire environment in Def-Con password change mode.
Most SuperSite readers are probably familiar with BitLocker full-drive encryption, a new Windows feature that provides secure startup and automatic full-drive encryption for the system volume (typically C:). While Vista's implementation of BitLocker is aimed almost solely at preventing notebook-based data theft in the event of lost or stolen hardware, this technology makes just as much sense in server environments, especially servers stored in those insecure remote offices we've been discussing. As with Vista, BitLocker on Longhorn typically requires TPM 1.2- based PC hardware, though you can optionally use a USB key for encryption key storage. And it can, of course, be used in tandem with EFS (Encrypting File System) to fully encrypt all of the files stored on your servers.
As mentioned previously, these technologies all work together to provide an unprecedented level of security for servers stored in insecure remote offices. Together, RODC, Server Core, BitLocker and EFS provide an amazing security story.
Internet Information Services 7.0
In keeping with the componentized operating system on which it runs, Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0 is a major upgrade to Microsoft's Web server solution and it offers an exceptional level of customization. That's because IIS 7 is also fully componentized, and designed to be as secure as possible regardless of the configuration. Though it's been completely architected, IIS 7 should provide full compatibility with previous generation ASP (Active Server Pages), ASP .NET 1.1, and ASP .NET 2.0 Web applications, and with most ISAPI extensions and filters.
But what's exciting this time around is, of course, the new functionality. The server is modular and can be configured with one to 40 feature modules. Each is installed independently, reducing the attack surface. Additionally, IIS 7 is now fully extensible via new APIs that developers can access via managed .NET languages such as Visual C# and Visual Basic 2005. Web solutions stored on IIS 7.0 are completely self-contained, allowing for XCopy-type deployments: Just copy over the directory structure and you've got the site and the configuration files, all in one place.
On the management side, IIS 7's brand new IIS Manager (Figure) offers a much more usable interface. It's also augmented by a new command line equivalent, appcmd.exe, as well as a legacy IIS 6.0 Manager for administering sites remotely.
Now that Beta 3 is available, Microsoft is offering a Go Live license that allows organizations to deploy production Web sites and applications on IIS 7. Don't be put off by this: IIS 7 is actually one of the most mature technologies in Longhorn Server. According to my sources, it's been completed for several months now and is just waiting on the rest of the Server to catch up.
Network Access Protection
As with the Terminal Services improvements in Longhorn Server, Microsoft's network quarantine technology, Network Access Protection (NAP) is eagerly-awaited and was originally expected in a previous Windows Server version. NAP allows organizations to configure security policies for network access so that when a client that doesn't meet these requirements attempts to connect to the corporate network, they will be pushed aside into a quarantined area of the network until they're brought up-to-date. This process can be automated or manual, depending on the technologies you implement, and once the connecting client is updated, it will be allowed onto the network normally. Obviously, this is a great solution for environments where some users connect directly to the network only occasionally. Perhaps they typically work from home or travel frequently.
Network Access Protection requires the new Network Policy and Access Services role, which configures a server to control client authentication, authorization, and accounting. As is the case with many new Longhorn technologies, the connecting clients must be running Windows Vista or XP with SP2; Longhorn ships with a compatible NAP client for these systems. Finally, NAP is also compatible with Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC), so you can mix and match if you're already working with Cisco quarantine technologies.
Windows Deployment Services
A completely rearchitected version of the Remote Installation Services (RIS) components from previous Windows Server version, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) works with new image-based Windows Vista clients and Longhorn servers, as well as old RIS-based Windows versions. WDS can actually be installed on previous Windows Server versions, in which case it overwrites and replaces RIS. But in Longhorn, WDS is the native environment for deploying Windows on both the client and the server.
I've written about WDS extensively before, so I won't beat it to death here. If you're looking for more information, please see my Windows IT Pro Magazine cover story, Deploying Windows Vista.
Windows Server Backup
Installed as an optional feature in Longhorn Server, Windows Server Backup (Figure) provides file, folder, application data, and system state backup and recovery. Backups can be scheduled to run one or more times a day, or can be run manually, and you can configure Backup to protect an entire server or only specific partitions. The big news here, in many ways, is that NT Backup, finally, is dead: Windows Server Backup is an excellent, full-featured solution, analogous in many ways to the Backup and Restore Center in Windows Vista Ultimate: It's disk-based (but also supports backup to DVD media) and sports excellent OS and application recovery tools. Underneath the covers, Windows Server Backup utilizes Volume Shadow Copy Services (which is also used for the Previous Versions feature in Windows Vista) for more efficient, block-level backup and restore functionality.
Changes from Beta 2 to Beta 3
During the year-long wait between Longhorn Server Beta 2 and Beta 3, a lot has changed. Fit and finish is dramatically better, for example, and Microsoft says it's made a number of performance improvements. (Though, to be honest, Beta 3 doesn't offer the level of performance I'd been hoping to see for such a major milestone.) Here are some of the changes that have occurred in this release.
The big one is Windows PowerShell (Figure). Previous to Beta 3, Microsoft said that it would ship its next-generation command line and scripting environment separately from Longhorn Server and would not integrate it into Windows until a future release. That's all changed: PowerShell is available now as an optional feature in Longhorn Beta 3, and Microsoft tells me that it's working to bolster this release with a collection of commandlets--executable PowerShell scripts--that it will provide to admins online. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of Longhorn-specific stuff in PowerShell today but hopefully that will change over time. Certainly, PowerShell is the future, though I have my doubts that most Windows admins have the developer skills necessary to fully grok this powerful if inscrutable tool. Time will tell.
And of course, this is only the beginning. In future versions of Windows, Microsoft will develop its admin tools for PowerShell first, and then build its admin GUIs on top of those command line tools, as it's done already with Exchange Server 2007. This is opposite to the approach that the company has traditionally taken: Through Longhorn Server, Microsoft developed its GUI tools first and then later went back and added command line utilities that typically offered a subset of the functionality found in the GUI.
In Beta 3, Microsoft is enabling Windows Firewall by default on clean installs, as it will in the final release of the product. As new roles and features are added, the firewall is automatically configured to open only those ports needed for the functionality that was requested. This is a huge change, given the fact that turning on the firewall in a Windows Server 2003-era product will essentially render the server unusable.
As with Windows Vista, the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security administrative console is now used to configure both the firewall and Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). You can also administer the firewall with the advfirewall or netsh command line tools.
In Beta 3, new Application Server and Web Server roles have been created; previously, they were combined into a single role. The new Application Server role is aimed at custom applications running on .NET Framework 3.0, and can include Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), and, perhaps, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) components as well as legacy COM+, message queuing, Web services, and distributed transaction components. (The initial versions of these technologies debuted a decade ago in the first and only Feature Pack for NT 4.0.)
The Web server role, naturally, configures your server for IIS-based Web applications and services.
Server Core changes
In Beta 3, the number of supported Server Core roles increased by three with the addition of the AD LDS, Print Server, and WMS (Windows Media Services) roles. Post-release, Microsoft will add a ninth Server Core, Windows Server Virtualization.
Additionally, you can now access regedit from the Server Core console, access legacy Open and Save dialogs in Notepad, and install WINS as an optional Server Core feature.
Command line changes
In addition to the inclusion of the Windows PowerShell in Longhorn Beta 3, this release also incorporates two other major command line-oriented changes (though both, interestingly, work within the classic command line environment and not PowerShell). The new servermanagercmd.exe tool provides a command line version of Server Manager for traditional (i.e. non-Server Core) Longhorn Server installs, and Microsoft tells me it completely duplicates the functionality of Server Manager: If you can do it in Server Manager, you can do it in servermanagercmd too.
Server Core gets its own unique management addition, too. The oclist.exe tool can be used to install and configure most of the roles supported under Server Core (but not AD domain services, which must be installed with dcpromo.exe and an unattend file). In that sense, oclist is to Server Core as servermanagercmd is to traditional Longhorn installs.
With the release of Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 3, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Though some performance work needs to be done and some features are still incomplete, work on this major Windows Server version is finally coming to a close. Looking ahead, we can expect one or more release candidate (RC) builds sometime this summer and fall, followed by the final release (or RTM, release to manufacturing, version) by the end of the year.
But even with RTM, Longhorn Server will not be complete. Microsoft plans to ship its upcoming Hypervisor-based virtualization solution, Windows Server Virtualization, within 180 days of the RTM of Longhorn Server. This technology will be provided to Longhorn customers as a free download and will install as an optional role in Server Core versions of Longhorn Server. Windows Server Virtualization is Microsoft's answer to VMWare ESX Server: It will essentially allow Windows-based environments to deploy virtual environments, in child partitions, side-by-side with Longhorn Server, which will be installed in a server's parent partition. I'll be looking at Windows Server Virtualization in-depth as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Microsoft recently delayed the first beta of this technology from the first half of 2007 until the second half of 2007.
Also post-RTM, we can expect a Longhorn Server R2 ("release 2") product about two years later, or in 2009 or so. The feature set of Longhorn Server R2 is unknown, but Microsoft previously said that it would make this product available only in 64-bit versions, compared to the original Longhorn Server release, which will ship in both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64 and Itanium) versions. Indeed, with Longhorn Server, the x64 versions will be the mainstream versions: The 32-bit versions will be identified as 32-bit, while the x64 versions will not be specially called out.
While Longhorn Server is a huge advance over today's Windows Server versions, there are many unknowns at this point. Licensing is a key issue: Microsoft says that we can expect roughly the same product line-up as we see today with Windows Server 2003. That means they are planning Web Server, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter versions of the product, most of which will ship in both mainstream x64 and legacy 32-bit versions, presumably with similar feature sets and licensing costs to today's products.
But what about Server Core? In Beta 3, you can install Standard and Enterprise versions of Server Core. Will these products be sold and licensed separately from the mainstream Server versions? (In other words, will we see three "Standard" Server products, Windows Server 2007 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2007 Standard 32-bit Edition, and Windows Server 2007 Core Server?) I would hope so: Because Server Core provides only a sub-set of the functionality of a mainstream version of Server, you should be able to get it for a fraction of the cost.
And speaking of Server Core, how will this intriguing solution change over time? Will Microsoft add more Server Core roles by RTM, or will we need to wait for a future Windows Server version? And what's the third party story here? Can admins easily install third party applications and services on top of Server Core? This is just the first version of this technology, and it will get more elegant over time, no doubt about it. But it's unclear how powerful the first version will be. Certainly, it's an exciting feature regardless.
I have similar questions about PowerShell. Will it find immediate traction with administrators, or is this developer-centric technology a bit too much for typical Windows admins? Today, there's a huge gap between admins who prefer the command line and those that stick almost solely with GUI-based tools. Adding yet another command line technology to Windows is a dicey proposition, especially given that Microsoft has been busy bolstering the old command line environment with a slew of impressive new tools, not the least of which is Server Core's oclist. Don't forget, Server Core is command line-only, but that command line is the legacy CMD, not PowerShell. Some birthing problems are inevitable as Microsoft manages the migration from the legacy command line to PowerShell. My guess is that it will take several years.
Windows Server "Longhorn" is a major release and an exciting one at that. It's going to take months for you to get full acquainted with the wide range of new functionality that's available here, and Beta 3 is the logical time to start. If you administer a Windows-based network or Windows servers in a heterogeneous environment, now is the time to start evaluating this product. But here's the good news: Though any migration to Longhorn Server will involve some hiccups, the bewildering array of new features and functionality will make it all worthwhile. Windows Server just keeps getting better with each release, and Longhorn Server is just so deep, and so thoughtfully designed, you'll just keep running into reasons to upgrade. Highly recommended.