Windows Server 2012 launch guide

Windows Server 2012 launch: Review, news and more

Windows Server 2012 is now available to the general public, bringing with it 300 new improvements over its predecessor, Windows Server 2008 R2. It is the first major release of a server operating system since 2009.

What can users expect from the new server? A revamped and modernized virtualization option in Hyper-V 3.0, an overhauled PowerShell language, a new UI and a lot more.

We've compiled our best features, news and more into this guide. We'll answer the basic question: should I buy it? Plus, we'll explain how to prepare for the upgrade and dive deeper into the technologies. After poring through the news and tips, you can test your knowledge of Windows Server 2012's newest features with our quiz.

Learn more about the product on our Windows Server 2012 topic page and for the latest news and stories, follow us on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

Table of contents:

What to expect in Windows Server 2012 -- reviews and views

Why should (or shouldn't) I upgrade?
Our expert takes a look at some reasons to upgrade to the latest server and explains why some administrators might want to wait or pass on the upgrade. This Windows Server 2012 review will make purchasing decisions that much easier.

How the new and old versions co-exist
We offer up some answers to questions you might have about this version of Windows Server, like clustering, file shares and features that won't be supported. Plus, participate in the poll and discussion on the page.

Latest Windows Server 2012 news

System Center 2012 will manage Windows Server 2012 … eventually
The System Center 2012 SP1 beta supporting the latest Windows Server version is out, but its timing frustrates IT pros.

How Windows Server 2012 upgrades will impact x86 server market
Now that Windows Server 2012 is out, hardware manufacturers are beginning to get servers running the latest and greatest hardware out the door. But what does this mean for Windows Server 2012 hardware sales in the short- and long-term?

IT shops get fewer choices with editions
With Microsoft's decision to reduce the number of Windows Server 2012 editions to four, IT shops can decide which edition to use simply by figuring out how many VMs they need to run.

Microsoft sets the date
At the beginning of August, Windows Server 2012 released to manufacturing. Microsoft announced the general availability date set for approximately one month later.

System Center admins will have to wait to run Hyper-V 3.0
The latest version of System Center only supports hosts using Windows Server 2008. This means IT shops may have to wait for Service Pack 1's release if they want to use Hyper-V 3.0.

Windows Server 2012 feature breakdown

Clustering improvements remove dependencies, bring high availability
Clustering improvements in Windows Server 2012 are bringing some big changes. The dependence on Active Directory is gone, support for read-only domain controllers is in and configuration with scale-out file servers makes high availability more attainable than ever.

Latest RSAT benefits make remote administration the new normal
By using the latest benefits of RSAT, admins can count on security, multiserver administration, remote Server Core administration and other advantages not previously offered with Windows Server.

Microsoft Online Backup Service: a cloud option for storage
Our expert breaks down the pros and cons admins may have when using Microsoft's latest cloud service offering with Windows Server 2012.

Some helpful links for Hyper-V Replica
This list highlights the virtualization replication feature that helps administrators achieve high fault tolerance and resilience to disaster. Plus: test your Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 knowledge with this quick quiz.

Admins gain control with built-in NIC teaming;
This Windows Server version marks the first time Microsoft offers teaming. With its easy configuration, NIC teaming can help administrators prepare for event failover.

Cloud deployment tools bring practicality to domain controllers
Active Directory cloud deployments: there’s a Windows Server version for that. The Deployment Wizard and Deployment with Cloning tools help administrators manage domain controllers.

IIS 8: Large, small and everything in between
The newest iteration of Microsoft's Internet Information Systems (IIS) has features that help administrators create large-scale Web hosts, but there are features that work well for smaller hosts and individual servers, too.

Test your Windows Server 2012 knowledge

Quiz: Windows Server 2012