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Windows Server 2012 R2 (Blue) Preview Available for Download

Microsoft has released the preview of Windows Server 2012 R2 to the public. This is available for download for users with a Live ID at Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 Preview site.

If you’re not familiar with Microsoft’s “Preview Releases”, then let me explain a little. The preview is not a finished copy, but rather a beta version which contains most (if not all) of the features and improvements we should expect to see in the final version for GA (general availability). I do not suggest running a preview release in a production environment or any other mission critical system, since there are usually many bugs and stability issues. The point of the preview isn’t to give the world a free copy of Windows, but rather to give us tech enthusiasts and IT Pros the opportunity to play with the next version of Windows Server. There are lots of great new features, and this is your chance to get some hands on experience with them.

My personal favorite new feature of Windows 2012 R2 Preview is De-duplication for VHDs in SMB 3.0 shares. Data de-duplication is not a new technology, however this is the first time the technology can be leveraged on a Windows file server hosting VHD (virtual hard disk) files. According to the keynote at TechEd 2013, Microsoft claims that not only can you save a whole lot of disk space when storing similar VHDs (like in a VDI environment), but performance is actually improved since the file system has already mapped the bits of de-duped data.


Other Related Previews

  • Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 Preview is also available for download. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 Preview is the Hyper-V hypervisor platform without the rest of Windows. Hyper-V Server was designed to offer customers all of the great features of the Hyper-V virtualization platform without the need for a Windows Server license for the host.
  • In addition to supporting the new platforms, Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Preview has many new features such as the ability to migrate a cluster from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • SQL Server 2014 CTP1 increases memory efficiency and performance for data warehousing and improves BI (Business Intelligence) capabilities. There are also several improvements to increase scalability of a SQL database environment.
  • Windows 8.1 Preview has many user experience improvements including more powerful search capabilities… and Yes the Start button is back!


About the author

Robert Borges

About Robert...

I have been in the IT industry since 1993 focusing mainly in networking. Though I got an early start as an amateur computer enthusiast, and wrote my first database app at age 12, I started my professional career working in the MIS department of one of the largest liquor distributors in the northeast. I started out there as a systems operator on the company’s two mainframe systems. From there I moved into PC support, and help design and implement the company’s first client-server network… This was back in the days of Win NT 3.51. I also worked on my first migration to NT 4.0 back then.

From there I went on to work with Novell 3.x and 4.x along with Windows domains and active directory environments. Working my way up from technician, to specialist, to administrator, and eventually all the way up to Sr. Engineer. I spent many years working for consulting firms, 9 of which I owned and operated my own firm.
Over the years, I have worked with (at an expert level) various versions of: Windows client and server operating systems (including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2);various virtualization technologies (Hyper-V, Virtual Server, Virtual PC, VMware, etc…); MS-SQL server 6.5- 2008 R2; Exchange 4-2010, and much more.

I am now Director of Information Systems at Bay State Integrated Technology focusing on cloud computing and IT service, with expertise in: IT Infrastructure & Architecture, IT Security, and Cloud Computing platforms & technologies (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

I am in a constant state of learning about new products, and new versions of products. Many of which we end up implementing in lab environments and sometimes for our clients. I have a pretty broad range of expertise and experience. It is my goal to share some of this experience on this blog to help enrich the IT community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.robertborges.us/2013/06/windows/windows-server-2012/windows-server-2012-r2-blue-preview-available-for-download/


  1. Kevin

    What happens when the Hyper-V 2012 Core R2 preview ends? Will there be an upgrade path to the final version or will it be a fresh install?

    1. Robert Borges

      Generally speaking very rarely does Microsoft offer a way to upgrade from a preview or beta version to the final RTM (released to manufacturing) version. There have been some exceptions to this rule, but I would not expect it. On the Windows 8 Preview download page, Microsoft suggests creating a USB Recovery Drive in order to roll back from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.

      Remember that these are release builds, and not final versions. They have many bugs and are intended to let IT Pros and Developers get their hands on the new version early for testing. Be very careful if using any of these previews in a production environment!!

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