Microsoft Announces Windows Server 2012

The Event

On Tuesday, September 4, Microsoft made the official announcement of Windows Server 2012, ending what has seemed like an interminable sequence of rumors, Beta releases, and endless speculation about this successor to Windows Server 2008.

So, is it worth the wait and does it live up to its hype? All omens point to a resounding “YES.”

Make no mistake, this is a really major restructuring of the OS, and a major step-function in capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry. While Microsoft’s high level message is centered on the cloud, and on the Windows Server 2012 features that make it a productive platform upon which both enterprises and service providers can build a cost-effective cloud, its features will be immensely valuable to a wide range of businesses.

What It Does

The reviewers guide for Windows Server 2012 is over 220 pages long, and the OS has at least 100 features that are worth noting, so a real exploration of the features of this OS is way beyond what I can do here. Nonetheless, we can look at several buckets of technology to get an understanding of the general capabilities. Also important to note is that while Microsoft has positioned this as a very cloud-friendly OS, almost all of these cloud-related features are also very useful to an enterprise IT environment.

  • New file system — Included in WS2012 is ReFS, a new file system designed to survive failures that would bring down or corrupt the previous NTFS file system (which is still available). Combined with improvements in cluster management and failover, this is a capability that will play across the entire user spectrum.
  • Deploy and manage at scale WS2012 (an abbreviation that is probably not approved by Microsoft) is designed to make it easy to deploy multiple copies of the OS on geographically distributed systems. Obviously this is a good feature for cloud platform, but is of use to almost any enterprise IT group. Improvements in application development and deployment promise the ability to deploy any WS2012 application to any location(s) from a centralized deployment server.
  • Vastly improved Hyper-V, virtual networking, and associated tools WS2012 has many improvements to Hyper-V, including features to improve HA/DR provisioning, enhanced virtual networking, and improvements to the size of individual VMs. Microsoft’s new management solution, Systems Center 2012, offers deep integration with Hyper-V for advanced management.
  • Heavy emphasis on multi-tenancy When considering cloud-based architectures, either as an internal private cloud or as a service provider offering shared cloud services, the ability to securely and efficiently handle multiple tenants on the cloud is a fundamental requirement. WS2012 has multiple features to enhance this capability, most of which will also be potentially useful for traditional enterprise IT environments as well. Security across the entire OS is integrated with these enhancements as well.
  • Client and remote office functions Improved management of client devices to allow centralized control of data and enhanced audit and compliance. Improvements in Branch Cache remote file services will allow tighter and more efficient management of data served to remote offices.

What Does It Mean For IT And I&O?

There is no doubt that this is the most significant jump in OS capabilities since Microsoft first introduced Windows as a server OS. It appears to me, based on numerous contacts with Microsoft and conversations with several Beta users, that this is essentially a complete rewrite of the OS, involving 1000s of developers over at least five years and probably somewhere between 40 and 50 million lines of code. So should everyone rush out to deploy it widely across your company? Heck no. It’s new, will have bugs, and like any major release, will certainly need some updates to stabilize it (that said, my impression from Beta users is that this is the cleanest OS release Microsoft has ever done, so I may be being overly cautious regarding early production deployment).

But, and this is critical, you must begin to evaluate and pilot it even if you are still completing your rollout of Windows Server 2008, as many Forrester clients still are. My guess is that WS2012 is the future of Windows OS, and will probably serve as the core of Microsoft’s strategy for the next decade. I doubt their ability to produce a radical upgrade to this in the next four or five years, and even the next version of the OS is likely to look like WS2012. This implies that you need to understand how this new OS will change and enable your strategic IT road map, particularly since the new OS has features and capabilities that, if properly exploited by you (or by your competitors), could generate real competitive differentiation such as the ability to deploy applications more rapidly, manage them more efficiently, etc.

How Does This Change Competitive Industry Dynamics?

Aside from an impressive array of new features, this OS could have the same transformative impact on the industry as the first release of Windows server did, directly addressing Microsoft’s strategy to become a major player in the cloud (both enterprise and public), and changing the dynamics of the emerging competitive battle with VMware as both attempt to become the center of what VMware has begun marketing as the "software-defined data center” (look for an upcoming research note from me on this topic). The vision of the software-defined data center, a term which I believe will assume some general currency as a description of a fully virtualized network, server, and storage capability that allows easy definition and deployment of complex virtual infrastructure that spans enterprise and public execution spaces as required, will become the locus of competition between Microsoft and VMware as well as other vendors over the next two years.

I&O groups should expect continued innovations from both vendors, along with attempts by each to subsume the management of the other’s VMs in an effort to become the end-to-end enterprise virtualization framework.

From a tactical perspective, I don’t expect large numbers of users to abandon their investment in VMware and march to Hyper-V and its shiny new tools and capabilities, because migrations between functionally similar platforms are generally an inefficient investment of resources. However, because the two platforms are now much more functionally equivalent under WS2012, VMware will face a resurgent competition from Microsoft for new workloads and major infrastructure transformation projects. Consumers of this technology can expect to maintain lively and intense competition between two capable suppliers, which is always good for users' pocketbooks as well as serving as a goad to continued innovation.


As noted above, there is no need to derail migrations to WS2008, but just about everyone who uses Windows should evaluate this new release. For those whose migration plans are scheduled for next year or later, WS2012 may be the target platform, depending on how aggressively Microsoft can garner support from ISVs. As with WS2008, consider running older OS and software stacks within a VM, particularly given the improvements to the overall Hyper-V environment.

For users contemplating a major new cloud or virtualization project or initiative, WS2012 should be the platform of choice, and any preconceived notions about Microsoft versus VMware for the virtualization layer need to be re-examined.

Comments welcome. What are your plans for Windows Server 2012?


We testing Win2012 since a

We testing Win2012 since a couple of months and have decided to not go with it, despite software assurance we will keep Server with 2008 R2 adn Win 7 sets. As concequence yesterday we have implemented our first Linux server in production. We agree MS made a lot of change on the server OS and desktop but it doesn't mean, its right! In our network beside of a test machine there will be no Win 8 client as we have received 83 per cent negative feedback related to user interface from the staff members.

I am not sure Windows 8 is

I am not sure Windows 8 is really targetted at the Enterprise. Most companies are either just on or deploying Windows 7 right now.

Windows Server 2012 is such a significant step over Windows Server 2008 R2 and should be considered straight away. My experience with it in beta/rc/rtm has been excellent in terms of stability and performance. The Hyper-V elements are hugely improved and powershell management simply awesome.

Not sure about your Linux comment are you suggesting Windows Server 2012 is such a disappointment in your two months testing that Linux is the answer? In my experience Linux (Red Hat) is like the emperors new clothes. Having run an very large corporate envrionment mixed Red Hat/Windows and HP-UX our most expensive envrionment to maintain was Red Hat. In addition support quality was terrible.

Totally agree. Linux support

Totally agree. Linux support nowadays are too expensive and mostly poor. Nice 2012 review, thank you.

Sure a full "gold" support

Sure a full "gold" support from RedHat costs money, but then you also do get good support as long as you do run applications which comes with the distribution. In other cases you get the same support as you would from microsoft if you ask them help you with your Adobe applications.

You can also have mixed support level on machines, those the staff has knowledge about, you run just the standard support, those the staff has no skills about have a higher support and if the staff don't have any Linux knowledge then hire a new guy.

When it comes to quality of support, in my experience it's far better with RedHat and Dells Linux department than with microsoft, but I guess this has to do with the luck of who you get in your support case. Don't forget that RedHat is not the only company giving Enterprise Linux support, so if not happy with RedHat, jump ships and get yourself SuSe, Ubuntu and so on...

At my current place we also decided that ms-windows server 2012 will not be deployed in our environment and for virtualisation we use VMWare so no need for the improvements in Hyper-V for us.

2012 review

I'm agree too but the thing is i dont understand how Linux support are too expensive and mostly poor, in my point of view Linux Support not expensive and its good to supporting.

Linux Support

No Aimee, i think you have some confussion because last 2 years i continuously used Linux but its really expensive to maintaining, so, now a days i use windows which is really faster and less expensive than Linux. But one more thing windows have less security than Linux.

WS2012 Microsoft wants to

WS2012 Microsoft wants to mimic Linux OS. I am not sure how far they succeeded. But WS2012 they removed the user-friendly GUI for the less techies and new babies. Looks like one should be expert in to handle the server in future.

WS2012 & Win8

Dear Sirs,

I have read through the comments and briefing about WS2012. Well I have installed and using windows 8 & WS2012. I want to show you how fast and how secure it is and more than Linux.

In fact Redhat has cheaper solution for installation and maintainability in large organisations but the conditions applies if organisation are very minimum clients connected with them and on tip of that they are highly qualified with red-hat, Linux , Unix etc. but windows. If you need to satisfy you end users you must concern what they are using and what they know about & that is surely windows. you can not switch you whole environment to unknown place where you show them orange and called it apple. Come on be realistic and make some positive comment to improve the product. I am very much inspired that MS has gift new technology where our goals are towards innovation is cleared now.

Enjoy the technology and sorry if it hurts

Windows Server 2012 - Worth The Wait?

Was Windows Server 2012 worth the wait? Nope! It is actually a full blown disaster;
1. No documentation to speak of.
2. Riddle with setup issuses.
3. Does not play well with Exchange Server 2010.
4. UI is horrendously hard to use and the tools used the most by Administrators are either hidden or non-existent!

Maybe after Microsoft gets it's act together - SP3? Then maybe it will be a "step forward", but just a tiny one!
Someday, Microsoft will talk to the real end-users of their products instead of just the CEOs and CIOs.

Server 2012

Well, I think documentation & Riddle etc is not an issue now a days. There are some commands and features that are very effective if personal get trained before use them officially.

I have just tested Windows Server 8 Enterprise that is fully compatible with Server 2012 and have awe some capabilities.

Ask Microsoft send you some trial version.

WS2012 - Best Server OS MS have ever released

Soo much misinformation here about non existent features etc etc, they are all there just in a different place, all I can think is that the people complaining about features and options and them not being there are not serious users or server admins, any server administrator will take time to get to grips with 2012 Server learn the new interface, then step back in amazement with the new technologies and features, they are truly awesome, SMB 3 for instance, the Live Migration of VMs just to name a couple.

This Server OS is fast, easy to use and manage your whole server infrastructure, using a unified interface, granted you need to relearn the interface etc, or use Powershell, but take the time to get to grips with Server 2012 and it is truly awesome, a real change from MS and gets your business ready for Virtualisation and Cloud!

Microsoft have got it right this time, brilliant and I would like to congratulate them :)

Thanks Richard Fichera,

Thanks Richard Fichera, Incredible good post as always.
That is a good suggestion.

Windows 2012 was a hidden

Windows 2012 was a hidden money machine set up, and
had knowledge about a guy with no skills and no luck. I
am sure Windows 8 is straight, and significant to my
experience as a client; despite Yesterday's change to my
desktop machine. Microsoft's strategy became a major player, and a complex virtual tactical resource I face;
which is good for everyone's uses and plans. Hyper
Systems beyond our technological business capabilities,
It appears to me, that Beta Sequence, and Strategic
Function are targeting CEOs.