Meet Windows Server 2012, the first "cloud OS"

Microsoft has officially rolled out Windows Server 2012, the server partner to the Windows 8 operating system it is launching on 26 October alongside the eagerly anticipated Surface tablet.

Formerly dubbed Windows Server 8, Server 2012 is the first iteration of the Microsoft software since Windows NT not to feature support for Itanium-based computers.

Unveiling the new offering on Tuesday, the Redmond-based tech titan heralded the new-gen system as the first "cloud OS."

"This is perhaps the biggest release of our server products in history, bigger than NT," Satya Nadella, president of Redmond's Servers and Tools Business.

"I was here at Microsoft when we launched Windows NT, which ushered in the era of client/server, and we believe that Windows Server 2012 ushers in the era of the cloud operating system," he added.

Intended to help power a variety of enterprises, from the world's largest datacentres to comparatively remote SMBs, Microsoft highlighted a number of Server 2012's key specs via a series of launch webcasts earlier in the week.

The software supports 320 logical processors and 4TB of physical memory per server, with 64 virtual processors per virtual machine. Virtual disks can scale up to 64TB apiece, according to the firm, or 32 times what it said the competition can offer at the moment, adding that Server 2012 is capable of virtualising 99 per cent of all SQL databases.

{MPU Placeholdershowed off a number of Server 2012's key specs via a series of launch webcasts, with the OS capable of supporting 320 logical processors and 4TB of physical memory per server, with 64 virtual processors per machine.Virtual disks can scale up to 64TB apiece, according to

The software, which is now available to download and purchase, will be available in four versions. UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the line will run from the Standard edition retailing at $882 (£550) up to the unlimited virtualisation supporting Datacenter edition selling for $4,809 (£3,020).

At the entry level, Windows Server 2012 Essential replaces the Small Business Server (SBS) product and costs $425 (£265) per server.

New features of Windows Server 2012 include a refreshed version of Hyper-V, including expanded network virtualisation capabilities to run multiple configurations on the same LAN. Also debuting is a new Resilient File System (ReFS), which improves reliability.

Windows Server 2012 is seen as a central part of Microsoft's new enterprise ecosystem, which also features Windows Azure and System Center 2012 for customers to manage and deliver applications and services across private, hosted and public clouds.

Appearance wise, Windows Server 2012 is built in the Modern UI-style, featuring a tile-based interface like that of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Readers interested in sky high data storage are encouraged to port to our dedicated cloud hub, and also to check out our recent chat with cloud expert and Misco Expo 12 keynote speaker Ian Moyse of Workbooks.com.