On the second day of its inaugural BUILD Conference in Anaheim, California, on Wednesday, Microsoft will detail the next major version of its server OS, Windows Server 2012 (formerly code-named Windows Server 8). Developed concurrently with Windows 8 and likely to ship at the same time, Windows Server incorporates technologies and methodologies that Microsoft first developed for its cloud computing Azure platform; the result is a new Server version that thoroughly rethinks the product for a new age of connectivity and capabilities.

"Our customers have told us what they want in the next Windows Server," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Bill Laing said during a briefing last week. "They want to move beyond virtualization with increased scalability and performance, and connect to cloud services. They want the power of multiple servers, but the simplicity of managing just one. They need to support a remote and modern workforce, meet regulatory compliance, and better manage and administer identities. And they want the flexibility to build on-premises or in the cloud."

Windows Server 8 meets all these needs, of course, but the big picture, I think, is what seems on the surface like a very simple and obvious concept. And that is that whereas current and previous Windows Server versions are primarily oriented toward managing a single server, Windows Server 8 introduces pervasive multi-server management from a single, elegant console—one that will run on a client PC instead of a server.

Back in 2003, Microsoft's Windows Server mantra was, "It's a server, not a surfboard," and the company shut down the product's web browser and hardened the system in other ways. Flash-forward almost a decade, and the software giant is taking this concept to its logical extreme: "It's a server ... period." The expectation is that admins will never need to sit down in front of a computer or remotely control its desktop. Instead, they will interact with its capabilities solely through a centralized console, the Server Manager, or programmatically through PowerShell, a powerful scripting language that, in this release, has been made much easier to use.

Indeed, PowerShell gains new prominence in this release. As with Exchange Server and other Microsoft server products, Windows Server 8's GUI-based management consoles are all based on Windows PowerShell. In Server Manager, there is now a PowerShell pane in which you can see the PowerShell commands behind your actions and use that code to automate them in the future.

Windows Server 8 includes major advances across the board and—as with the Windows 8 client—it seems as if no corner of the system hasn't been reexamined and improved in important ways. But I'll be writing a lot more about this exciting coming release today on the SuperSite for Windows, which will also include a live group blog of the day 2 keynote at BUILD. Stay tuned!