Microsoft has yesterday released the latest edition of Windows Server series – Windows Server 2012 – which is intend to power your cloud infrastructure.

Windows Server 2012 adds features that make it easier to manage large clusters of servers in data centers remotely.

File:Windows 8 server start screen.png

Windows Server 2012 is the server version of Windows 8 and the successor to Windows Server 2008 R2Windows Server 2012 os the first version of Windows Server to have no support for Itanium-based computers since Windows NT 4.0.

Some important features available in Windows Server 2012 are:

  • User interface – Server Manager has been redesigned with an emphasis on easing management of multiple servers. The operating system, like Windows 8, uses the Metro UI unless installed in Server Core mode. Windows PowerShell in this version has over 2300 commandlets, compared with around 200 in Windows Server 2008 R2. There is also command auto-completion.
  • Task Manager – Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 include a new version of Windows Task Manager together with the old version. In the new version the tabs are hidden by default showing applications only. In the new Processes tab, the processes are displayed in various shades of yellow, with darker shades representing heavier resource use. It lists application names, application status, and overall utilization data for CPU, memory, hard disk, and network resources, moving the process information found in the older Task Manager to the new Details tab. The Performance tab is split into CPU, memory (RAM), disk, ethernet, and, if applicable, wireless network sections with graphs for each. The CPU tab no longer displays individual graphs for every logical processor on the system by default; instead, it can display data for each NUMA node. When displaying data for each logical processor for machines with more than 64 logical processors, the CPU tab now displays simple utilization percentages on heat-mapping tiles. The color used for these heat maps is blue, with darker shades again indicating heavier utilization. Hovering the cursor over any logical processor’s data now shows the NUMA node of that processor and its ID, if applicable. Additionally, a new Startup tab has been added that lists startup applications. The new task manager recognizes when a WinRT application has the "Suspended" status.
  • Installation options – Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2012 can switch between Server Core and the GUI (full) installation options without a full reinstallation. There is also a new third installation option that allows MMC and Server Manager to run, but without Windows Explorer or the other parts of the normal GUI shell.
  • IP address management (IPAM) – Windows Server 2012 has an IPAM role for discovering, monitoring, auditing, and managing the IP address space used on a corporate network.
    1. IPAM provides for administration and monitoring of servers running Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name Service (DNS). IPAM includes components for:
    2. 1.) Automatic IP address infrastructure discovery: IPAM discovers domain controllers, DHCP servers, and DNS servers in the domains you choose. You can enable or disable management of these servers by IPAM.
    3. 2.) Custom IP address space display, reporting, and management: The display of IP addresses is highly customizable and detailed tracking and utilization data is available. IPv4 and IPv6 address space is organized into IP address blocks, IP address ranges, and individual IP addresses. IP addresses are assigned built-in or user-defined fields that can be used to further organize IP address space into hierarchical, logical groups.
    4. 3.) Audit of server configuration changes and tracking of IP address usage: Operational events are displayed for the IPAM server and managed DHCP servers. IPAM also enables IP address tracking using DHCP lease events and user logon events collected from Network Policy Server (NPS), domain controllers, and DHCP servers. Tracking is available by IP address, client ID, host name, or user name. 4.) Monitoring and management of DHCP and DNS services: IPAM enables automated service availability monitoring for Microsoft DHCP and DNS servers across the forest. DNS zone health is displayed, and detailed DHCP server and scope management is available using the IPAM console.
  • Active Directory – Windows Server 2012 has a number of changes to Active Directory from the version shipped with Windows Server 2008 R2. The Active Directory Domain Services installation wizard has been replaced by a new section in Server Manager, and the Active Directory Administrative Center has been enhanced. A GUI has been added to the Active Directory Recycle Bin. Password policies can differ more easily within the same domain. Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 is now aware of any changes resulting from virtualization, and virtualized domain controllers can be safely cloned. Upgrades of the domain functional level to Windows Server 2012 are simplified; it can be performed entirely in Server Manager.
  • Active Directory Federation Services is no longer required to be downloaded when installed as a role, and claims which can be used by the Active Directory Federation Services have been introduced into the Kerberos token. Windows Powershell commands used by Active Directory Administrative Center can be viewed in a "Powershell History Viewer".
  • Hyper-V – Windows Server 2012, along with Windows 8, includes a new version of Hyper-V, as presented at the Microsoft Build Event.
  • Many new features have been added to Hyper-V, including network virtualization, multi-tenancy, storage resource pools, cross-premise connectivity, and cloud backup. Additionally, many of the former restrictions on resource consumption have been greatly lifted. Each virtual machine in this version of Hyper-V can access up to 32 virtual processors, up to 512 gigabytes of random-access memory, and up to 16 terabytes of virtual disk space per virtual hard disk (using a new .vhdx format). Up to 1024 virtual machines can be active per host, and up to 4000 can be active per failover cluster. The version of Hyper-V shipped with the client version of Windows 8 requires a processor that supports SLAT and for SLAT to be turned on, while the version in Windows Server 2012 only requires it if the RemoteFX role is installed.
  • ReFS – ReFS (Resilient File System, originally codenamed "Protogon") is a new file system in Windows Server 2012 initially intended for file servers that improves on NTFS. Major new features of ReFS include: 1.) Improved reliability for on-disk structures 2.) Built-in resilience 3.) Compatibility with existing APIs and technologies
  • IIS 8.0 – Windows Server 2012 includes version 8.0 of Internet Information Services (IIS). The new version contains new features such as CPU usage caps for particular websites.
  • Hardware – Windows Server 2012 includes support a huge set of hardwares 640 Logical Processors (was 256 in Windows Server 2008 R2), up to 4 TB RAM(was 2 TB in Windows Server 2008 R2), 64 Fail-over cluster nodes (was 16 in Windows Server 2008 R2)

Information Courtesy: Wikipedia page of Windows Server 2012

 

You can read more about Windows Server 2012 in the following links

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/09/windows_server_2012_first_look/

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/default.aspx

 

Download:

You can download a 180 day trial version from Windows Server official page from Microsoft.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/evaluate.aspx 

 

For MSDN and TechNet users it will be available through their respective Subscriber Downloads section

MSDN Subscriber Downloads

TechNet Subscriber Downloads 

 

Sources: Microsoft Windows Server page and Wikipedia