You may have seen that there are going to be some changes to the way SQL Server 2012 is licensed and the editions available, if you haven’t then the detail is here. What I want to cover off in this post is what the various new features depend on so you are clear on what else you need besides the new licenses of SQL Server 2012.
The three components of BI in Microsoft are SQL Server, Office and SharePoint, and this has been true since the integration of Performance Point in SharePoint 2007. SQL Server 2008 R2 add PowerPivot to SharePoint to allow excel power users to share the analytical mashups they created with their colleagues. This relied on Excel Services in SharePoint enterprise to create a PowerPivot gallery where other business users could slice and dice the PowerPivots created by their more technical peers.
SQL Server 2012 adds in two new BI features, Power View and Report Alerting in the new Business Intelligence edition and in the top end Enterprise edition:
Also not to get these new features to work you’ll need SharePoint 2010 sp1 or later
One of the other, if not the, top feature in SQL Server is AlwaysOn. This builds on windows failover clustering services (but with no shared storage necessary) to provide mirroring like functionality across multiple databases with multiple secondaries which can be read only if necessary. This feature is only available in SQL Server Enterprise edition and because it relies on failover clustering it will only work on Windows Server Enterprise editions and above (as per this editions datasheet).
As for which version of Windows will run SQL Server 2012, it’s the same as for SQL Server 2008 R2 - Windows Server 2008 sp2, and on the desktop Vista Sp2 or later. I am guessing Windows Server 2008 is still supported as this is the last 32 bit server operating system but clearly the clock is ticking for 32 bit server support so you’ll want to start thinking about removing that as a dependency in your infrastructure