Microsoft delivers Windows Server 2012, puts the enterprise on cloud 8

Forget Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 is where it's at... if you're a corporate IT manager, that is. Microsoft has just posted the finished version of its suit-and-tie OS for immediate sale in download form. Not surprisingly given Microsoft's big cloud push, the emphasis with the upgrade is on improving how well the software scales for internet hosting -- the company wants one common backbone that can handle as little as a small e-mail server to large-scale Azure deployments and virtualization. Server 2012 is also defined by what you won't find: while the Metro-style interface from the platform's Windows 8 cousin shows its face in the Essentials version, it's noticeably stripped down and goes away in the more advanced tiers. The real shakeup for some might just be the new price points, which drop the cost by a large amount for offices that don't need more than a slice of what the all-out Datacenter edition has to offer. We'll admit that most of our attention as end users will be focused on what happens several weeks from now, but if you're one of those rare server operators that can't wait to start testing a new OS release almost immediately, you've got a head start on most of us.