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These days, it’s just not possible for a business to get very far in attaining its goals without a server set up to aid in the effort. Work is so expansive and requires so many tools only available in server form. Workers are also more spread out, working odd hours or remotely, and yet still need the kind of access to programs and communications they would get from within the office.

For those who want a server that can handle all of their business’ needs, one of the best options on the market is Windows Server 2012 (or for some, Windows Server 2012 R2). This server has the kind of virtualization required, as well as a more stable, well-designed environment for the user and the administrator. While there are more recently released servers out there, few can provide the kind of capabilities combined with the prices found with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

A Server Ready to Provide For All Business Needs Built On Windows 8

One of the significant benefits of using Windows Server 2012 (and R2) is the ability to work off the Windows 8 system. While its debut was somewhat controversial, Windows 8 has proven to be an operating system much ahead of its time. With its app-focused experience that enables far more touch-based navigation, users can work quickly and comfortably as they move around the system. For any modern business looking for a modern server experience, they’ll find exactly what they need in Windows Server 2012.

The Features Available in Windows Server 2012

Beyond working from the Windows 8 kernel in the operating system, Windows Server 2012 comes with all of the following features.

New Installation Options

Businesses can now choose how they want to work with their server when they install it. There is the traditional graphics user interface (GUI) option that will provide the Windows 8-level experience that most would expect, but there is also a GUI-free Server Core option that removes the interface and can work through commands set by PowerShell. The benefits of Server Core are that it is faster and more efficient for those working through commands. It is also a more secure way to run the server. For those who want the benefits of Server Core but need some GUI features, there is a third install option that combines the two.

A New More Stable File System

Previous versions of Windows Server worked with the NTFS file system, which proved to have some corruption issues. Windows Server 2012 (and all later versions) have switched over to the much more stable and much more corruption-resistant ReFS system.

An Improved Task Manager

The new Windows Task Manager has a far better design that makes it easier for administrators to work with it. Default and tasks tabs are reorganized into a more logical and simplified order.

More Administrative Capabilities

There are new IP address management tools available to administrators so they can monitor and manage IP addresses more effectively. PowerShell also comes with more cmdlets (numbering in the tens of thousands now) has allowed for better management of workflows.

More from Your Virtualization

Hyper-V gets a new level of focus and extensive capabilities. It can now access up to 1 TB of memory and can work across up to 64 virtual processors. That’s just the beginning, but the bottom line is that if you need more virtualization for your business, you’ll find it in Windows Server 2012.

What Comes with Windows Server 2012 R2?

Windows Server 2012 received a second release upgrade (R2) which includes all of the features above, while it also added some key improvements as well. Here are a few of the most prominent changes.

Faster Access to Your Most Important Data

This server provides a whole new way to access your data more quickly and efficiently. The server now places the most popular data on the fastest data tier so that it is always the most available.

Better Data Compression

Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces new data deduplication compression. With this tool, the server gets into your data to find duplication where it is residing and eliminate it. It saves space, speeds up processing, and doesn’t reduce data capabilities at all.

The Desired State Configuration

Another significant improvement to the server, the Windows Server 2012 R2 edition of PowerShell includes the Desired State Configuration, which is a new level of automation designed to allow the server to monitor itself to see whether it is remaining at the level expected of it set by Microsoft. If there is an issue, it can run updates or notify the administrators of the problem.

Different Windows Server 2012 Editions

Not every version of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is the same. There are multiple versions available, each one designed to meet the needs of a particular kind of business.

Foundation

On the lowest end, Foundation is designed for small businesses that need some advanced features but not most of them. It can accommodate up to 15 users (no CALs required), but it doesn’t have the simplified server management found in Essentials.

Essentials

As mentioned directly above, Essentials is simplified for those businesses that need a server but which lack any technical know-how. It can work for up to 25 users (no CALs required here either) and makes it easier to work with basic programs for users and administrators.

Standard

The server version that Microsoft has designed for the majority of businesses. It doesn’t have the user limitations or the feature limitations of either Foundation or Essentials. It is only limited in the very high-end features, and capabilities found below. Ideal for businesses that need a lot from their server but don’t use the very demanding advanced abilities.

Datacenter

The most advanced server choice on offer for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. It comes with everything and is perfect for those who really need to give their server a workout every day at the office. It has almost limitless potential.