Today at TechEd 2007, Bob Muglia announced the availability of IIS7 on Server Core in Windows 2008 Server, starting with the upcoming CTP and RC1 releases. We've added IIS7 on Server Core as a result of a lot of customer demand to make it available on the lowest footprint Windows server ever. See Microsoft's PressPass for what Bill Laing has to say about this announcement.
If you're not familiar with Server Core, it is a low footprint Server installation option that lays down just the minimal footprint to boot up the server, it doesn't even install the Shell. This has several key benefits for IT Pros. First, it means server core uses less disk and memory footprint. In our testing, we see about a 1GB disk footprint and the server runs well starting with just 512MB ram! Of course, fewer features also means a lower attack surface and less frequent patching, as well as fewer things to manage.
Having IIS7 on Server Core is like the perfect marriage. It means you get an extremely modular, customizable Web server on a thin server OS, perfectly suited for appliance-like environments, or Web farm front-end servers where you want to blast a small, cloned image out and forget about it.
You may wonder: what doesn't work on Server Core?
- Since Server Core doesn't have the Windows Shell, there are no GUI administration tools for it. This includes IIS manager, the IIS administration tool. The IIS cmd-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 (yes, notepad.exe works on server core!)
- Currenly the .NET Framework is not on Server Core, which means ASP.NET is currently not available. This is something the .NET team wants to add and we're working on adding it as soon as possible. Classic ASP works just fine, and with the new FastCGI support, PHP also runs great on Server Core.
- Our remote administration service that handles HTTP remote administration and delegated administration relies on the .NET framework, so it is likewise unavailable. Of course, distributed web.config files still work just fine, so anyone with access to a content directory can publish IIS configuration for the Web site / application.
All other features of IIS7 work as they normally do on any version of Windows server. The IIS7 on Server Core installation option should be available on an upcoming CTP build, and in RC1.