There are lots of great things to be excited about when it comes to SQL Server 2008. (And shortly after completing my series on SQL Server Backups, I'll create a whole series detailing new features and benefits.)
But in terms of installation and configuration there are some really great, yet very minor, additions/changes that will largely go un-heralded in other blog posts and articles.
One of those changes is that the installer will remind you to punch appropriate holes in your firewall.
It's not like you won't remember to do that anyhow... but if you're like me (and do lots of SQL Server installations on virtual machines) you'll find that reminder up-front to be nice as you'll be able to go and toggle the firewall open while the installation is proceeding - instead of waiting until right-before you get ready to connect from an external machine.
The other, bigger, benefit? That horrible, horrible hack called the SQL Server Surface Area Configuration Manager is now GONE. (I always detested how managing security infrastructure and options for SQL Server required another, external (and not to mention insanely slow/sluggish) tool. Now, once you're done with a SQL Server 2008 installation, you're greeted with a much nicer conclusion that doesn't require you to jump through a bunch of hoops: