Grab the latest Preview R2 releases for Windows Server, System Center and Hyper-V Server


We recently put Preview (beta) releases of Hyper-V Server R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 on the TechNet Download site. There are significant updates to each of the products that I encourage you to check out. Here is a little more information on each product -



Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 is a hypervisor-based server virtualization product that enables you to consolidate workloads, helping organizations improve server utilization and reduce costs.

Hyper-V Server is a dedicated stand-alone product that contains the hypervisor, Windows Server driver model, virtualization capabilities, and supporting components such as failover clustering, but does not contain the robust set of features and roles as the Windows Server operating system. As a result Hyper-V Server produces a small footprint and requires minimal overhead. Organizations consolidating servers where no new Windows Server licenses are required or where the servers being consolidated are running an alternative OS may want to consider Hyper-V Server.

In contrast, Windows Server 2012 is recommended for organizations that need flexible and cost effective virtualization rights. Virtualization rights in Windows Server 2012 are based on the specific edition purchased, with Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition providing unlimited virtual instances.

One of the most common uses for Hyper-V Server is in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments. VDI allows a Windows client operating system to run on server-based virtual machines in the datacenter, which the user can access from a PC, thin client, or other client device. A full client environment is virtualized within a server-based hypervisor, centralizing users’ desktops.

By deploying VDI with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012, users will have seamless access to a rich, full fidelity Windows environment running in the data center, from any device. Hyper-V Server also gives IT professionals a cost effective VDI solution with simplified administration, flexible storage options, and dynamic allocation of resources.

Key Features

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 provides enhanced capabilities and features that help consolidate servers effectively while making maximum use of resources.

  • Hyper-V Network Virtualization

    Hyper-V Network Virtualization decouples server configuration from network configuration to provide multiple virtual dedicated networks. This enables seamless communications among virtual machines, and migration across physical servers, while isolating these networks from one another, enhancing security.

  • Hyper-V Extensible Switch

    Hyper-V has been enhanced for virtual machine protection, traffic isolation, traffic prioritization, usage metering, and troubleshooting. To help integrate Hyper-V networking into existing infrastructures, the Hyper-V Extensible Switch provides for third-party extensions to work with existing monitoring and security tools, or with other specialized third-party functionality.

  • Virtual Machine Scale and Mobility

    Hyper-V Server has been enhanced, similarly to Hyper-V in Windows Server, and can host larger virtual machines with more virtual processors and memory – and host more of them on larger server clusters. These improvements, combined with other features such as Dynamic Memory, enable you to consolidate even very large workloads densely and efficiently.

    Hyper-V Server enables tremendous flexibility in virtual machine placement and management throughout your virtual environment, through the inclusion of support for simultaneous live migrations, storage live migration, and shared-nothing live migration.


  • Cost-effective virtualization

    Server virtualization is an effective method to improve resource utilization, increase availability, and improve agility within an organization’s infrastructure. Hyper-V Server provides a simple server virtualization solution for any size organization.

  • Improve scalability and performance

    When consolidating servers, Hyper-V Server 2012 significantly increased scalability – both up and out – over previous versions. Now you can virtualize almost any workload.

  • Leverage your existing skills

    IT professionals can easily leverage their existing knowledge and skills with Microsoft virtualization products, as well as the collective knowledge of the community, minimizing the learning curve. In addition, with Microsoft providing comprehensive support for Microsoft applications and heterogeneous guest operating systems, customers can virtualize with confidence and peace of mind.



System Center 2012 R2 captures Microsoft’s experience building and operating large cloud services to deliver a comprehensive cloud and datacenter management solution across your on-premises environments, hosting service providers, and Windows Azure. System Center 2012 R2 is currently in preview to support product evaluation.

See for yourself how the unique set of capabilities and features can provide enterprise-class management, reduced complexity and infrastructure costs, deep application and workload insight, and heterogeneous datacenter management.

System Center 2012 R2 effectively manages the scale and performance that Windows Server 2012 R2 offers.  Building on System Center 2012, this release enables at-scale management of major Windows Server 2012 R2 capabilities, including running VM snapshots, dynamic VHDX resize, and Storage Spaces.   System Center 2012 R2 also extends software-defined networking in Windows Server 2012 R2 with provisioning and management support for a multitenant VPN gateway to enable seamless extension of datacenter capacity.  System Center 2012 R2 will continue to help you provision and manage a flexible hybrid IT environment that adapts dynamically to changing business needs, including migrating workloads to Windows Azure Virtual Machines and managing them consistently.


System Center 2012 R2 provides multiple capabilities designed to reduce infrastructure complexity in a cost-effective manner.  You can deploy System Center 2012 R2 with less effort through in-box service templates and runbooks for multiple components.  You also can use System Center 2012 R2 to automate the migration of Hyper-V clusters from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2. Leverage the service automation capabilities – including built-in PowerShell workflows – to drive down costs and simplify service delivery.

System Center 2012 R2 provides deep insight into your applications and workloads, enabling you to deliver a predictable application SLA to your business. It provides application performance monitoring for Java applications, including line-of-code traceability. In addition, the System Center Advisor connector allows you to consume workload configuration best practices in your familiar Operations Manager console. 

System Center 2012 R2 eases management of heterogeneous datacenter environments, including open source environments, by providing Dynamic Memory support for Linux guests and the ability to deploy Linux VHDs consistently to Windows Server and Windows Azure infrastructure.

Enabling People-Centric IT

As organizations face the challenges of enabling people to choose the devices they wish to use for their work, Microsoft can help IT maintain security across all device types, regardless of whether the devices are corporate or personal assets, and establish security measures that protect their organization’s systems, data, and network.

System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, along with the upcoming releases of Microsoft  Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Intune, can help organizations face the challenges of consumerization of IT by enabling people to choose the devices they wish to use for their work while supporting the management, access, and data protection needs of IT.

System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager enables organizations to deploy and manage Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, as well as helps make Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) management easier by enabling the creation, modification and offline servicing of VHDs and the ability to upload VHDs to System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.


At the heart of the Microsoft Cloud OS vision, Windows Server 2012 R2 brings Microsoft’s experience delivering global-scale cloud services into your infrastructure. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers exciting new features and enhancements across virtualization, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, and more.


New and enhanced features allow you to take advantage of even better performance and more efficient capacity utilization in your datacenter, helping you increase the agility of your business. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a proven, enterprise-class virtualization and cloud platform that can scale to continuously run your largest workloads while enabling robust recovery options to protect against service outages.

Simple and cost-effective

Windows Server 2012 R2 also gives you resilient, multi-tenant-aware storage and networking capabilities for a wide range of workloads. It delivers these capabilities at a fraction of the cost of other solutions, through the use of low-cost, industry-standard hardware. With automation of a broad set of management tasks built-in, Windows Server 2012 R2 simplifies the deployment of major workloads and increases operational efficiencies.

Application focused

Windows Server 2012 R2 helps you build, deploy and scale applications and web sites quickly, and with more flexibility than ever before. In concert with Windows Azure VM and System Center 2012 R2, it unlocks improved application portability between on-premises environments and public and service provider clouds, increasing flexibility and elasticity of your IT services. Windows Server 2012 R2 provides a scalable, highly available platform for mission-critical applications and offers enhanced support for open standards, open source applications and various development languages.


Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it easier to deploy a virtual desktop infrastructure, and can lower storage costs significantly by supporting a broad range of storage options and VHD de-duplication. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it possible for users to access IT from virtually anywhere, providing them a rich Windows experience while ensuring enhanced data security and compliance.

Windows Server 2012 R2 enables you to provide access to corporate resources and helps protect critical business information. With Windows Server 2012 R2, you can manage identities across your datacenter and federated into the cloud, provide flexible remote access to applications and resources, and define the resources and level of access users have to information based on who they are, what they are accessing, and what device they are using.