I spent the weekend migrating a 20-person law firm to new servers running Microsoft Small Business Server 2008. If I did my job right, the first impression on Monday morning will be that very little has changed – folders with firm documents will open up, Outlook will show mailboxes full of mail, and people will get to work. (Crossing fingers. Knocking on wood.)

In the next few weeks I’ll tell you about some of the things that have made a very positive impression so far. Without making a big deal about it, Microsoft has developed a consistent look for many of its screens for administrators, just like the ribbon bars that first appeared in Office 2007 and are now being used for many Microsoft programs. It’s a clean, intuitive layout.

The first improvement that will really be noticeable at the law firm will be when the attorneys connect remotely to the new server. Here’s a screen that will be familiar to many of you – the first screen that appears when an Small Business Server 2003 user goes to the web site for remote access. It’s not bad, except that the only choice that anybody ever clicks on is Remote Web Workplace. All the rest of the words and choices are superfluous.


This is the same screen in Small Business Server 2008.


After logging on, these are the choices in SBS 2003.


There’s nothing wrong with that, but again, only two things matter – access to Outlook, and remote access to an office computer. The rest rarely matters to anyone trying to get their work done. Here’s the same screen in SBS 2008.


The same design choices carry through to all the screens that I will see as the administrator. There are a lot of new places for me to look for things and a lot of new things to learn, but the design changes will hopefully make it easier to absorb.

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