Windows Server 2008 : Installing and Upgrading IIS 7.5

2/24/2011 11:40:43 AM
The installation process and architecture for many of Microsoft’s new products that have been or will be released in the upcoming years are completely modularized like Internet Information Services 7.5 on Windows Server 2008 R2. By providing a modularized approach, web administrators have complete control over the footprint of IIS when customizing the installation. This results in the surface area being reduced, which, in turn, drastically minimizes the chances of a security compromise.


As part of the Microsoft Trustworthy security campaign, IIS is not installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 by default. You have to add the Web Server (IIS) role via Server Manager if you want IIS installed.

Before installing or upgrading Internet Information Services, it is a best practice to fully understand the new modular installation process, including the features associated with the installation.

Understanding the Modular Approach to Installing IIS 7.5

The new buzzword for Internet Information Services 7.5 modularized installation process is “slim and efficient.” The modular setup is made up of more than 40 separate feature modules allowing for complete customization when deploying IIS 7.5. This typically results in minimal surface area and more granularity compared with older editions of IIS. In addition, even patching is based on a component level. All of this translates to a customized footprint for each organization running IIS 7.5.

As illustrated in Figure 1, the modules, also known as “role services” or “components,” that can be selected during the installation process of the Web Server (IIS) role consist of the following:

  • Web Server

  • Management Tools

  • FTP Server

Figure 1. Reviewing the role services and feature installation options.

The following sections depict the modular role services, including an explanation for each.

Web Server Modular/Role Service

The Web Server modular is the main service role within IIS 7.5. It can be considered the chief functionality for a web server because it provides the foundation for supporting websites and provides developers with a foundation for development. The Web Server role is further broken down into more types of features, which can be independently installed, which promotes further customization of the installation:

  • Common HTTP Features— A set of features that allow for static content to be delivered, the creation of customized HTTP errors, directory browsing, and selection of default documents are enabled by default. The HTTP Redirection and WebDAV publishing features are disabled by default.

  • Application Development— This feature set is not enabled by default during the installation. If selected, the Application Development role service makes available features for creating and hosting web applications. These features include ASP.NET, .NET Extensibility, ASP, CGI, ISAPI Extensions, ISAPI Filters, and Server-Side Includes.

  • Health and Diagnostics— Select this feature to install the tools associated with monitoring, managing, and troubleshooting an IIS installation. The independent features include HTTP Logging, Logging Tools, Request Monitor, Tracing, Custom Logging, and ODBC Logging.

  • Security— The Security role service includes security features for controlling website authorization based on authentication alternatives. In addition, it provides the infrastructure for securing IIS and the websites associated with the installation. The features that can be selected include Basic Authentication, Windows Authentication, Digest Authentication, Client Certificate Mapping Authentication, IIS Client Certificate Mapping Authentications, URL Authorization, Request Filtering, and IP and Domain Restrictions.

  • Performance— Performance features such as Static Content Compression and Dynamic Content Compression bolster website performance by managing bandwidth and compression.

Management Tools Modular/Role Service

The next role service associated with the Web Server (IIS) role installation is Management Tools. The management tools provide the means of managing and administering the IIS 7.5 infrastructure. The following bullets explain the different management tools available for installation:

  • IIS Management Console— If selected, the IIS Management Console feature installs the latest User Interface tool for managing, administering, monitoring, and securing IIS 7.5. The tool has been much improved and provides support for both IIS and ASP.NET.

  • IIS Management Scripts and Tools— It is now possible to manage all of the IIS settings and configurations based on automated script commands. This feature provides the infrastructure that allows IIS to be managed by scripts. This is great when there is a need to manage many IIS 7.5 servers within an infrastructure.

  • Management Service— This feature provides the foundation within the IIS 7.5 infrastructure for remote management.

  • IIS 6 Management Compatibility— This feature provides the tools for backward compatibility when managing an IIS 6.0 infrastructure from a Windows Server 2008 system running IIS 7.5. In addition, it lets IIS 6.0 management scripts run on IIS 7.5.

FTP Server Modular/Role Service

The next role service is known as the FTP Server. It provides a reliable method for making files available for download and also offers a reliable place for users to upload files if needed. The three FTP features that can be installed are as follows:

  • FTP Service— The FTP Service feature provides the infrastructure for creating and hosting FTP sites within IIS.

  • FTP Extensibility— This features enables support for custom providers and ASP.NET/IIS Manager users.

  • IIS Hostable Web Core Role Service— The last role service allows an administrator the potential to write custom code that will host core IIS functionality in your own application.

Installing the Web Server (IIS) Role

Now that you understand the installation process, including the modules, the next step is to install the Web Server (IIS) role. You must have Local User Administrator (LUA) security privileges on the Windows Server 2008 R2 system to be able to install IIS. There are two ways to begin the installation: adding the Web Server (IIS) role via Server Manager or installing the services via the command line.

To install the Web Server (IIS) server role using Server Manager, follow these steps:

Click Start, Administrative Tools, Server Manager. The Server Manager tools appear.

Right-click Roles in the left pane of Server Manager, then select Add Roles.

On the Select Server Roles page, install IIS 7.5 by selecting Web Server (IIS) in the Roles section, as shown in Figure 2. A dialog box pops up, informing you about additional features required for Web Server (IIS). Click Add Required Features, and then click Next.

Figure 2. Selecting the Web Server (IIS) role during the installation process.

Review the introduction messages and notes on the Web Server (IIS) page, and click Next.

Select the desired Web Server IIS role services and features to install. The default settings include Static Content, Default Document, Directory Browsing, HTTP Errors, HTTP Logging, Request Monitor, Request Filtering, Static Content Compression, and the IIS Management Console Management Tool. Click Next. The Confirm Installation Selections page appears.


When installing some of the IIS components, the wizard warns you that additional services and features are required as dependencies. Click Add Required Role Services in the Add Roles Wizard to install the dependencies. These dependencies might include components of the new Windows Process Activation service.

On the Confirm Installation Selections page, review the roles, services, and features that have been selected for installation, and then click Install to commence the installation process.

Ensure the installation succeeded by reviewing the messages on the Installation Results page, and click Close.


After the installation is complete, additional IIS role services and features can be added or removed by clicking either Add Role Services or Remove Role Services within Server Manager based on the Web Server (IIS) role.

Installing the Web Server (IIS) Role via the Command Line

Windows features and roles such as IIS 7.5 can be installed using the command line. To install a default installation of IIS 7.5, run the following script from a command-line window:

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-WebServerRole;WAS-WindowsActivationService; WAS-ProcessModel;WAS-NetFxEnvironment;WAS-ConfigurationAPI

Alternatively, the following syntax can be used to install all of the IIS 7.5 features and functionality:

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-WebServerRole;IIS-WebServer;IIS-CommonHttpFeatures; IIS-StaticContent;IIS-DefaultDocument;IIS-DirectoryBrowsing; IIS-HttpErrors;IIS-HttpRedirect

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-ApplicationDevelopment;IIS-ASPNET; IIS-NetFxExtensibility;IIS-ASP;IIS-CGI;IIS-ISAPIExtensions; IIS-ISAPIFilter;IIS-ServerSideIncludes;IIS-HealthAndDiagnostics; IIS-HttpLogging;IIS-LoggingLibraries;IIS-RequestMonitor;IIS-HttpTracing; IIS-CustomLogging;IIS-ODBCLogging;IIS-Security;IIS-BasicAuthentication

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-WindowsAuthentication;IIS-DigestAuthentication; IIS-ClientCertificateMappingAuthentication; IIS-IISCertificateMappingAuthentication;IIS-URLAuthorization; IIS-RequestFiltering;IIS-IPSecurity

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-Performance;IIS-HttpCompressionStatic; IIS-HttpCompressionDynamic;IIS-WebServerManagementTools; IIS-ManagementConsole;IIS-ManagementScriptingTools; IIS-ManagementService;IIS-IIS6ManagementCompatibility;IIS-Metabase; IIS-WMICompatibility;IIS-LegacyScripts;IIS-LegacySnapIn; IIS-FTPPublishingService;IIS-FTPServer;IIS-FTPManagement; WAS-WindowsActivationService;WAS-ProcessModel;WAS-NetFxEnvironment; WAS-ConfigurationAPI

Upgrading from Other Versions of IIS

In many situations, a fresh installation of IIS 7.5 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will not occur because organizations might want to preserve the existing IIS settings and content. Therefore, organizations must upgrade their existing IIS infrastructure to IIS 7.5. With the upgrade of the previous version of Windows to Windows Server 2008 R2, IIS is also automatically upgraded, allowing web content to be preserved, translated, and, finally, transitioned. However, you should note early in the process that Windows Server 2008 R2 only supports a direct upgrade path from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003, which means only an in-place upgrade from IIS 6.0 or IIS 7.0 is supported. Likewise, if legacy versions of IIS need upgrading such as IIS 5.0, you must first upgrade the operating system to Windows Server 2003 and then to Windows Server 2008.


IIS 7.5 no longer uses a metabase as in IIS 6.0. The IIS 7.5 XML configuration files replace the legacy IIS 6.0 metabase.

The upgrade process for IIS is conducted in three major phases. In the first phase, the new operating system detects and performs an inventory of IIS components and features already installed on the operating system. The second phase of the upgrade process involves upgrading the legacy operating system to Windows Server 2008 R2. After the Windows Server 2008 R2 upgrade is complete, the final phase kicks in and automatically translates the IIS 6.0 metabase information gathered in the first step, upgrades the legacy IIS metabase to IIS 7.5, and installs the appropriate IIS 7.5 features.

As is typically the case with most revised products, Windows Server 2008 R2 IIS is inherently superior to its previous versions. In particular, it lays claim to being more secure. This is witnessed during upgrades of websites to IIS 7.5. Website services are stopped after the upgrade and must be manually restarted, thus minimizing IIS security vulnerabilities due to previous Windows defaults. To allow for more clarity, suppose you have a Windows server with IIS installed, but it isn’t supposed to be serving as a web server; the server will be more secure by default after you upgrade to IIS 7.5 because it will not be turned on automatically and made a subject for attacks.

Another appealing reason for upgrading from previous versions of IIS is that the IIS 7.5 installation process is granular and modularized. After upgrading, it is best to only install the features you require to reduce the surface area utilized. With that said, be aware that after upgrading to IIS 7.5, a majority of the web server features are installed right out of the gate as many legacy versions were not granular.

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