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Windows is the OS of the cloud, says Microsoft

Aims performance broadside at VMware

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TechEd Redmond has opened its 20th annual TechEd jamboree with a keynote from Microsoft Server and Tools Business president Satya Nadella that pitched Windows to IT managers as the best OS for building clouds.

"The cloud operating system is the core capability," he said. "We wanted to make sure that we can do a great job of building it out comprehensively and consistently so that you can usher in the era of the cloud operating system."

Central to this cloud OS is the forthcoming Windows Server 2012 platform, expected out this autumn, but Nadella said that Microsoft is shifting its software systems fundamentally around cloud, including recent changes to the Azure platform and now infrastructure cloud and an update to the InTune management suite. Windows 8 client version was barely mentioned – that's for tomorrow's keynote.

Windows Server 2012, currently in release candidate stage, is going to be the OS that melds together data from the data center down to the individual user, Nadella promised, and made it clear that VMware is firmly in Redmond's sights with this release and its updated Hyper-V server virtualization hypervisor.

"The guys at VMware claim that they can deliver up to 300,000 IOPS from a single VM," said Jeff Woolsey, principal program manager for Windows Server virtualization. "With Windows Server 2012, we're delivering 985,000 IOPS from a single virtual machine, more than three times more. We can go much, much higher, but this is as fast as the hardware will go."

He also pointed out that the new OS would allow virtual disk sizes of up to 64TB, much more than anyone else in the industry. Redmond also had the largest clusters he said, with up to 64 nodes and 4,000 virtual machines in a single cluster.

Microsoft is eating its own dog food on this, Nadella said, across the whole company. Last week Bing, which has around 300 petabytes of data, is now running entirely on Windows Server 2012 RC, although we're betting it's a mite more current than the RC available to the rest of us.

On the Azure side, on top of last week's IaaS and PaaS announcements, Microsoft has opened up a previously invitation-only preview of the Team Foundation Service ALM server as a free download and Redmond is adding in code checking and monitoring using Azure for disparate groups of programmers.

InTune 3.0 was also released on Monday. As demonstrated in April, the new software is designed to simplify management of devices, including those from Android and Apple. It is now integrated with Active Directory Domain Services and Azure Active Directory, with further updates once System Center is out.

While there was little startlingly new announced during the keynote, Nadella went long on strategy. Microsoft is pitching Windows Server 2012 as the must-have OS for cloud use, and wooed the assembled 10,000 developers with demos and descriptions about how easy it will be to build cloud apps in the future.

As El Reg pointed out last week, it will need those selling points. Windows 8 on the desktop faces serious problems with new buyers, particularly the huge chunk of Redmond customers who are still using XP. Having a cloudy server-side sales pitch will be essential to getting at least one part of Windows 8 onto corporate machinery. ®

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