There is a lot of buzz around the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the new Metro style application environment.  The other aspect of the next release of Windows is the server component that also has new capabilities.  There are a host of new  IIS enhancements that make it easier to manage your web applications.  Also, Hyper-V now has an extensible switch that is ripe for developers who want to create add-ons.  If you haven’ t had a chance to explore the next release of Windows Server, please take a moment to download and install the FREE Windows Server 2012 Beta now.  If you would prefer to have a preinstalled VHD, you can also download that from the download site.  My team mate, Harold Wong recently wrote a blog post with steps needed to take that VHD and configure your system to boot from it without having to install or repartition your hard drive giving you a no touch way to check it out.

Check out PC Magazines article on 10 Killer new features of Windows Server 8

Most developers are probably aware of Windows Azure and the benefits offered by a Platform as a Service public cloud offering.  As environments mature, more and more organizations are exploring hybrid cloud solutions.  There are definite benefits that a private cloud offers that may not be available in a public cloud offering.  Would you like to use a self-service portal to request a fully configured development environment that can be deployed quickly without any intervention from you?  Would you like to have insight into how your application is running during QA with direct integration with Visual Studio?  This is absolutely possible with System Center 2012!  I would encourage you to work with your IT folks to explore the Microsoft Private Cloud offering and how it can also be used to seamlessly manage an Azure environment using App Controller in addition to the afore mentioned items.  Download the evaluation bits for System Center 2012 today.

-Scott