Windows Tip Sheet

3 Server-Worthy Downloads

Upgrade your admin life with these three Microsoft tools: IIS Diagnostic Tools, WSUS and Win2003 R2.

This week is just a quick roundup to make sure you’re caught up on all the goodies Microsoft has recently released:

Microsoft’s recently released an update to a very useful set of diagnostic tools for IIS, in a complete Internet Information Services Diagnostic Tools package. In fact, this package is updated every quarter (roughly); the current version includes diagnostics for SLL connections, authentication and access control problems, Exchange SMTP (which is built on top of the IIS SMTP server core) problems, and an IIS log parser. The entire toolkit is now available in three editions: x86 for 32-bit platforms, ia64 for Itanium systems (you all rushed out and bought Itanium systems for your Web servers, right?), and an amd64 version for x64 systems (including AMD 64-bit and Intel EM64T systems). You can also download the tools individually, if you prefer.

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) has been released. This is the product originally known as Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0, then Windows Update Services (WUS), and I think it was even called “The software formerly known as Prince” at one point. Name waffling aside, it’s awesome software for keeping your network’s Windows computers updated. Essentially, it replaces the official Windows Update Web site on your intranet, consolidating updates from Windows Update and then distributing them to your computers in a controlled fashion. Totally worth your time, and if you’re not running a patch management solution, get WSUS. It’s free. It also integrates with Systems Management Server (SMS), if that’s what you’re using for systems management.

Finally, don’t forget that Win2003 “R2” is in customer preview mode. I have to admit, I know a lot more about the technologies that are no longer in R2 (having been pulled out for various reasons along the way) than what’s left, but the R2 FAQ says it’s basically got improved AD replication for lower-bandwidth situations (like branch offices), AD Federation Services to help with cross-organization authentication, and simplified SAN provisioning and quota management. Obviously R2 also includes some nicer stability and performance enhancements, and from talking to folks within Microsoft I think they’re going to be pretty significant. The feature list, however, is pretty dreary-sounding. A few months ago I was holding out for Microsoft’s new command-line shell, code-named Monad, to maybe be a surprise inclusion in R2, or even for the long-long-long overdue Audit Collection Service (ACS, formerly MACS) to be bundled in. Monad, it turns out, isn’t even going to be ready for Longhorn, and I don’t know what the deal is with ACS. R2 is supposed to include v2 of the .NET Framework, which is also releasing with SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, so that’ll be nice, but you won’t need R2 to get v2 of the Framework—it’ll be downloadable to all platforms independently.

Be sure to check out WSUS and the IIS diagnostics kit, and keep your eyes on R2.

More Resources

  • Download the tools here.
  • Blog a bit about the toolkit here.
  • WSUS (good grief, these acronyms are getting silly) is here.
  • Read more about Win2003 R2—such as it is—here.
  • That R2 FAQ I mentioned is here.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.

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