On August 1, 2012, Microsoft officially released Windows Server 2012 to manufacturing. Jeffery Snover, Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect for the Windows Server Division at Microsoft, made the big announcement Wednesday in the Windows Server Blog.

Arguably, the biggest news in Windows Server 2012 is the virtualization improvements in the new Hyper-V. For the first time, Hyper-V has feature parity with VMware's vSphere 5.0 and, in some ways, even exceeds it. Some of the big enhancements that you'll find in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V include:

  • Cluster support for 64 nodes and 4000 virtual machines (VMs)
  • Support for hosts with up to 320 logical CPUs and up to 4TB of RAM
  • VM support for up to 64 virtual CPUs with up to 1TB of RAM
  • Support for VM Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)
  • Support for multiple concurrent Live Migrations
  • Live Migration between hosts without the requirement for shared storage
  • Support for Storage Live Migration, which enables you to move a VM's configuration, virtual hard disk, and snapshot files to a new location without incurring any downtime for the VM
  • Support for multiple concurrent Storage Live Migrations
  • New Extensible Virtual Switch, which enables multi-tenancy
  • New Hyper-V Replica uses asynchronous replication of VMs for disaster recovery and high availability
  • Built-in NIC teaming works across multiple heterogonous vendor NICs
General availability is scheduled for September 4, 2012, when Microsoft will host a virtual launch event. You can check out the virtual launch event on September 4. Better yet, check out the September issue of Windows IT Pro for our independent in-depth coverage of Windows Server 2012.

Microsoft also announced the release to manufacturing for Windows 8 on August 1. You can read more about that on Microsoft's Blogging Windows. Windows 8 is planned to be generally available on October 26. Both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 should be available to MSDN and TechNet customers on August 15.