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Supermicro New Zealand
Now Shipping: Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2
31 October 2013

On the 17th of this month (October 2013) Microsoft officially released Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 to the general audience. While Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade and available for download through the Windows Store for existing installations of the Windows 8 desktop operating system, the server variant is a new stand alone product and not a free upgrade for existing installations of Windows Server 2012.

As of now we are shipping Compucon systems with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 pre-loaded and installed with proven drivers, ready for your immediate deployment (as long as they are purchased with the relevant OEM license). Where a license is not purchased with the systems (for example you have a charity, education, action pack, or an open license) our OS installation service is available as a value-adding service for your convenience ($50 for desktops and $90 for servers).

For reference we have compiled some notable features or changes introduced by the new OS releases below.

Windows Server 2012 R2

There are three (3) editions for this server operating system; Essentials, Standard, and Datacenter. The Essentials edition has a number of restrictions designed for businesses with up to 25 users and no more, while the Standard and Datacenter editions are absolutely identical, with the only difference in licensing; Standard allows up to two (2) virtual machines (VMs) while Datacenter can have an unlimited number of VMs.

Storage Tiering
Allows most frequently accessed files to be automatically stored on fastest physical media
Write Back Cache New storage volumes created in R2 can assign fast storage such as an SSD as write-back cache; speeds up database performance
De-duplication for VM VHDs Reduces the storage space for VHD files with largely similar contents by storing the similar contents only once e.g. base Windows files
Next version of Hyper-V Brings leaner and cleaner "Gen2" VMs, improvements to Hyper-V replica, faster live migration, online VM exporting and cloning, and lots more
Faster VM deployment
Appoximately twice as fast; takes half the time
Server Message Block Performance and event logging quality improvements, support for Hyper-V Live Migration over SMB, bandwidth prioritization management
Work Folders
Brings the functionality of Dropbox to corporate servers. Install this role on a Windows Server 2012 R2 system, and you get a fully functional, secure file replication service
Windows Start button Return of the Windows Start button improves ease of use and familiarity for administrators expecting a Start button in the lower left corner of the desktop

Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 is similar to previous Windows service packs, but unlike previous service packs Windows 8.1 is obtained as a download through the Windows Store.

GUI improvements
Number of improvements throughout the operating system to address criticism that Windows 8 faced on launch
Start screen customisations
Expanded color choices, new tile sizes, new backgrounds, the ability to use the desktop wallpaper as its background, and the ability to default to the "All Apps" view
PC Settings app expanded Now includes access to more options previously exclusive to the desktop Control Panel, and Windows Store apps can now be updated automatically
Updated Windows' bundled apps Updates to Mail, SkyDrive (deeper OS integration), and Internet Explorer 11; added Calculator, Sound Recorder, Reading List, Scan, and Help + Tips
Bing-based unified search system Offers full-screen "hero units" that can surface relevant multimedia content from various sources
Supports new and emerging technologies Adds support for 3D printing, NFC printing, Miracast media streaming, and Wi-Fi Direct printing
Windows Start button
A new visible Start button was restored to the taskbar; the desktop can be shown on login instead of the Start screen; hot corners can now be disabled



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