Microsoft is having a new release for all of its OS line-ups this year, from phones (Windows Phone 8) and PCs (Windows 8 / RT) to servers (Windows Server 2012).Traditionally the server OS has gone up for sale last, after the corresponding desktop/laptop OS has been available in retail for purchase. However this time, the server component is showing up first, for purchase in stores and as part of pre-built OEM servers. Windows 8, the client OS to complement the server, is still two months away from "GA" or General Availability to public. Enterprise IT might well see this version as an inflection point for servers, as much as Windows 2000 was against Windows NT 4. Among the changes are the addition of the Modern UI (formerly "Metro"), the enhanced PowerShell, the product re-segmentation, simplification of end-user license, and more. We shall only be talking about the release of the OS itself, in this article, and answer some Frequently Asked Questions.
What is the significance of 4th September 2012 for Windows Server 2012? The server OS will officially be available to the public for sale, at 8AM PST in the US. MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be able to download install images.
I thought it was already available since August 1? That was the date when Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 were "Released To Manufacturing" (declared RTM) to the OEMs who make and sell Windows-based hardware. On August 15, only Windows 8 (the client OS) was made available to developers for download from MSDN/TechNet.
Didn't it leak to the Internet in the first week of August? Computerworld India had indeed covered the story, including checksums of the leaked ISO images. In the case of the client OS at least, the actual ISO images that were later legitimately received from MSDN turned out to differ slightly.
What does "General Availability" status confer, in brief? It simply means that you can now buy or receive the new OS through legitimate channels. Not only will install images be available online, you will also get access to installation keys, and see box-packs available at computer stores.
How many editions are expected to be available? Fewer editions than there used to be, and possibly working out to a lower cost depending on your implementation. With Windows Server 2012, there are only expected to be four editions to cover the entire spectrum, from low-end Workgroup servers and small businesses to datacenters. Arranged by increasing hierarchy, the following four choices are what you'll get:Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. An overview of the differences between the four can be seen at Microsoft's site. Notably, the Standard and Datacenter Editions also continue the tradition of offering a "Core" install.