Windows Server 2012 is now generally available, Microsoft announced today, fulfilling a promise company executives made at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July to ship the new release in early September.
The new edition is the latest in a wave of significant product updates Microsoft is releasing this year, leading up to the launch of Windows 8 late next month. Already this year Microsoft has shipped major upgrades to such core products as its SQL Server database and business intelligence server and System Center IT management toolset.
Microsoft is touting Windows Server 2012's expanded virtualisation capabilities and its ability to work with the Windows Azure cloud computing platform to deliver more than 200 public, private and hybrid cloud services.
"We're really opening the door to any application on any cloud," said Michael Park, corporate vice president for the Microsoft Server and Tools Business. "Agility is the name of the game in IT these days."
Park also touted the product's new automated IT management capabilities, such as the ability to manage a large number of virtual machines. Another significant enhancement is the ability to synchronise identity, security and virtualisation policies across public and private cloud systems, based on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure, to better manage mobile devices.
Microsoft is offering Windows Server 2012 in four editions, and Park said the Essentials edition, which has a 25-user limit, would particularly provide VARs and solution providers with opportunities in SMB markets.
In a controversial move, Microsoft decided to discontinue the once-popular Windows Small Business Server edition, saying that more small businesses today are turning to cloud computing for email, backup and other services, rather than running those applications on-premise.