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Windows Server 2012 release highlights this year's top news stories

Look back on the top news stories in a pivotal year for Microsoft and its Cloud OS initiative for Windows Server 2012.

Microsoft's 2012 is a defining year for the company. While most of the spotlight is on the desktop version of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 has been similarly instrumental in determining the company's future.

Microsoft's goal was to make IT administrators happy while increasing competitiveness on the virtualization front. With the release of new management tools, upgrades and improved packaging and licensing, Windows Server seems to be doing just that.

These titles are this year's most-read articles and include important news, user concerns and expert opinions about Windows Server.

5. A potential impact on the x86 market from Windows Server upgrades

The x86 server market could not have been happier with the release of Windows Server 2012. Server sales had been down in recent months, but the launch of the new Windows Server meant a likely boost in purchases. Even so, server sales were not expected to improve until the second half of 2012 once adoption went into full gear.

4. Changes in System Center 2012 licensing, packaging increase competition with VMware

The competition between Microsoft and VMware was heightened when Microsoft unveiled its System Center management tools for its private and hybrid cloud solutions.

By having Standard and Datacenter versions, Microsoft hoped for less granularity for other products and customers over time, but the need for Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0 could not provide a full picture of their private cloud and made it difficult to predict if Microsoft could dethrone VMware.

3. Improvements in interface, ReFS and Hyper-V memory highlight Windows Server 8 beta

Microsoft released the first Windows Server 8 beta with a few dozen features and enhancements. Highlights of the server included a Metro-style interface, improved Resilient File System (ReFS) increased virtual hard disk size and more memory for Hyper-V virtual machines. Microsoft hoped these features would increase its competitiveness.

2. Fewer editions of Windows Server 2012 reflect increased virtualization

Microsoft announced in July that Windows Server 2012 would only come in four editions rather than seven. This move was in response to large businesses moving to an increasingly virtualized infrastructure. But the changes mean a higher price for the Datacenter and Standard versions. Although some said the price gap would be a good thing, the availability of Windows Server 2012 remains to be seen.

1. March Patch Tuesday fixes critical RDP vulnerability

March's Patch Tuesday was one of the lightest this year with only six bulletins addressing seven issues affecting server and desktop versions of Windows, Expression Design and Visual studios. The only "critical" bulletin was for Remote Desktop Protocol, and Microsoft officials advised users to make it a deployment priority. Although RDP comes preinstalled, older systems without some of the built-in security features as systems running Network Level Authentication, such as Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, were the most vulnerable.

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