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Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 R2 Wave Release Set for Oct. 18

While most watchers presumed Microsoft would deliver its next wave of Windows client and data center products sometime this fall, the company today has made it official: all will be released Oct. 18.

Microsoft didn't say if it was planning a major live launch event but the company will make all of the recently announced new software available on that date. PC makers will launch new PCs and tablets with Microsoft's new Windows 8.1 client, Microsoft senior marketing communications manager Brandon LeBlanc said in a blog post this morning.

Though there was no mention of a new Surface device on that date, commenters on the blog were already speculating on one. It's possible Microsoft will hold off on that to not upstage its already aggravated OEM partners. "We haven't announced RTM today," LeBlanc noted. "This announcement is just for general availability. We also haven't made any new announcements for TechNet subscribers."

At launch, Windows 8 customers can upgrade to the improved Windows 8.1 version via the Windows Store (see MSDN Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mike Desmond's take on some of the key new features in Windows 8.1 here).

In the case of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, existing customers can download it that day, while new customers can buy the new release on Nov. 1. The fact that Microsoft is launching its client and server upgrades underscores the so-called seamlessness the company has emphasized since the June TechEd conferences in New Orleans and Madrid.

Brad Anderson, the Microsoft corporate VP who outlined the new features in Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 in the opening keynotes at TechEd in June announced the release date for the new server operating system in a blog post today. The two, along with an upgraded Windows Intune also slated for release that day, are part of Microsoft's release strategy.

Apparently Anderson sees Windows Server 2012 R2 as a work of art, having noted the release date coincides with the 501st anniversary of Michelangelo exhibiting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time. "If you love great works of art, then it's up to you to decide," he said.

Indeed, some IT pros might agree that building a hybrid cloud datacenter architecture takes both artistic and technical skills. Also it's not surprising that Microsoft is looking to tie the launches of the client and server OSes together, especially given Microsoft's emphasis on how IT can provide more seamless management of user-owned Windows PCs and tablets.

Perhaps most noteworthy in the Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade is improvements to Hyper-V and easier integration with public cloud services including Windows Azure. To enhance Windows Server, Microsoft is launching the Windows Azure Pack, though it wasn't immediately clear if that will be included in the Oct. 18 launch.

If you've looked at any of the upgraded wares, feel free to comment below or pass along your thoughts to jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/14/2013 at 3:35 PM


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