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Windows Server 8 beta ready for download

Code rewritten for virtualization

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Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Microsoft has released the beta build of its forthcoming Windows 8 Server operating system, a day after making its "Consumer Preview" of the Windows 8 client-side code available on Wednesday.

Microsoft is touting its Server 8 platform as having been built with virtualization and cloud support in mind. The code has version three of Windows' virtualization platform Hyper-V, which the company promises will be able set up many more virtual systems on the same hardware, while ensuring that information can be siloed when needed.

"With Hyper-V Network Virtualization you can create virtual networks so different business units, or even multiple customers, can seamlessly share network infrastructure," said Microsoft's corporate vice president for servers Bill Laing in a blog posting. "You will be able to move virtual machines and servers around without losing their network assignments."

Redmond is also looking to shift IT admins off using GUI controls and instead get them using PowerShell to manage the software – a bit of a retro step in that Microsoft was once very keen on on server GUIs. The beta has over 2,300 commandlets included for PowerShell, and Redmond recommends dumping the GUI altogether, although you can install it as an option, should you so desire.

The download comes as a 64-bit ISO image in English, Chinese (simplified), French, German, Japanese, and as a virtual hard disk (VHD) edition in English only. Early reports indicate the code is very stable, but – as always with betas – users install and operate it at their own risk. ®

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