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Microsoft unveils Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014

03 Jun 2013
Microsoft Windows 8.1 demo

New Orleans: Microsoft has announced updates across a broad range of its enterprise products and services, aimed at helping IT departments move forward with cloud computing and the new era of mobile devices.

At its TechEd 2013 conference, Microsoft announced Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 and updates to Windows Intune, all coming later this year. The firm also showed off some of the changes coming in the updated Windows 8.1 platform.

Microsoft's theme for the event was that the Windows platform and services around it continue to be best placed to meet the needs of enterprise customers, even as those customers look to embrace cloud computing and the brave new world of mobility.

"Microsoft's vision of the cloud is the cloud OS," said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools division. "We have promise to empower IT, enable modern business apps, unlock insights into data, and to transform the data centre."

In addition, there was the familiar refrain that Microsoft's platforms are better together. System Center and Windows Server are more effective when combined, Azure is the best cloud platform for a Windows-based hybrid cloud strategy, and Windows Intune enables customers to extend System Center's reach out to mobile devices.

Anderson claimed the upcoming releases are all "significant updates to the versions we released last year".

For example, Windows Server 2012 R2 now supports automated storage tiering using SSD and spinning disks in its Storage Spaces disk pooling feature, delivering a claimed 16x performance boost.

When used with System Center 2012 R2, customers can also live migrate virtual machines between different versions of Windows Server, with support for compression and deduplication speeding the process, according to Microsoft.

Windows Server 2012 R2 also includes a new feature called Workplace Join to help address the bring-your-own-device trend. This enables users to use a device of their choosing to connect to corporate resources, while allowing IT to apply policies to control how it is used.

SQL Server 2014 now enables in-memory analytics capabilities, delivering more powerful transaction processing in real time, according to Microsoft.

For Windows 8.1, Microsoft confirmed that the new platform will enable users of legacy applications to boot straight to the desktop environment, as well as bringing user interface changes, support for wireless printing and wireless display streaming.

Erwin Visser, senior director for Microsoft's Windows Division, said: "With Windows 8.1, we are continuing our vision to make sure Windows 8 tablets are best business tablets, as well as delivering a better experience for users on devices such as laptops."

Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 will be available in preview later this month, Microsoft said. The first two are due to ship by the end of the year, with SQL Server 2014 following early next year.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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