ms376608_bnr-win8-2(en-ca,MSDN_10)Today is a really important date in the evolution of Windows. Today we released the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 , and Windows Server “8” beta. I’m sure that many of you are as excited as I am to download both of these (almost done as I write this post), but a thought struck me as soon I watch the download progress bar. Now What? Sure, like most of you, I’m going to find a machine to install each of them on, but then what else can I do to understand how both of these new operating system versions will impact our organizations?

Let’s Start With Windows “8” Consumer Preview

We’re all consumers which means that the excitement level around the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is way up there! Once you download it, many of you will probably just start playing with it. To help make your experience better, you should check out the resources on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview site to help you get started.  As IT Professionals and looking further down the road to when you will be asked to provide guidance to your organization on adopting Windows “8” and deploying it in your environments, you will want to check out the Springboard Series content on Windows 8 including the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide.  I suggest you start there to help make your time with Windows 8 Consumer Preview much more effective.

One thing to remember is that it will be a while before Windows 8 is released so you want to take your time to evaluate how it will work with your existing applications and infrastructure.  The best way to get ready for Windows 8 is to ensure your environment is on Windows 7 today and not running Windows XP or earlier editions of Windows. Support for Windows 2000 has already ended and Windows XP extended support will end on April 8, 2014 – that’s coming up faster than you think. A great resource to help you plan, deploy and manage Windows 7, Office 2010 as well as learn how to ensure your in-house applications are ready is the Springboard site on TechNet. Like I said before, the best way to get ready to deploy Windows 8 on your client machines is to move off Windows XP and deploy Windows 7 now!

The Real Excitement for Me is in Windows Server “8”!!

On the server side, Windows Server “8” beta has just so much!! I have been in this industry a very long time (remember, I have NO hair left on my head!), and I can honestly say that Windows Server “8” is the most exciting release of a server operating system since Windows NT 3.1!!! (Told you I’ve been doing this a long time!!). The most exciting new features for me center around Private Cloud and virtualization including things such as shared-nothing Live Migration, Storage Live Migration, new storage options, NIC teaming in the OS, extensible virtual networking and more!  To learn what’s new in Windows Server “8” beta and find out how to configure your own Windows Server “8” beta test lab and more, check out the Windows Server “8” beta page on TechNet.  Another good place to go is the Windows Server “8” beta Library on TechNet

You should not wait until Windows Server “8” ships to start to take advantage of Hyper-V and our Private Cloud offerings. Implement Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V in your organization and download and take advantage of System Center 2012 to deploy, monitor, and manage your Private Cloud infrastructure right from the bare metal! 

Key Thing to Remember!

Like I said before, Windows 8 won’t be officially released for a while so prepare to integrate it in your environment in the future, but implement Windows 7, Windows Server 2008R2 SP1, and System Center 2012 today.  The great thing is that most of what you learn with these products will help you to deploy Windows 8 in the future.  Nothing like gaining skills you can re-use!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to start my own journey with Windows 8.  The downloads have just completed!!

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