Another new OS. Except this one is completely free (as in, you can use it legally without paying for it which must be a first from Microsoft!). However… besides being sufficiently cut-down to run just Hyper-V, you also only get a command line. So it has the same user-friendliness as Server Core, without most of the functionality. It’s probably not ideal for a production environment (after all, most of Windows server is missing and there’s no support) but is great for testing- I’ve got it running as the secondary boot on a 3-year old Dell laptop and it does exactly what it says on the tin- I can create an entire Hyper-V environment on it from my W8 workstation, including being able to use all the new PowerShell commands.
There’ve been pretty mixed reviews of Windows 8, but to anyone made nervous by the criticism please, give it a go even if that means trying it in-store.
A lot of people have been freaking out- “Where’s the start menu“, “It doesn’t work with a mouse“, “Where’s my desktop gone“. The start menu is… sort of the entire screen. Except it’s your own, custom start menu (don’t worry- you can access everything by pressing the windows key). Of course it works with a mouse- it’s just that all the icons are bigger (much bigger), so it’s actually easier. And the desktop is still there- you just need to think of it as another program, instead of the foundation on which everything sits. And you can customize the Home screen icons at will- get rid of stocks and other unnecessary ones and add the programs you need.
So far, I’d say: (a) it’s really fast, (b) you don’t miss the desktop half as much as you think you might, because all your programs are right there on the home screen (c) searching for items not immediately at hand is fast and easy and (d) customization makes it far more user-friendly, as you don’t constantly have to go Start > Programs > … find the Application folder… find the Application… click. You can get rid of all the pre-defined tiles and add just those programs you need, and suddenly there’s no hunting.
I would say for now, it’s exactly the right mix of being easily useable on a desktop but obviously works brilliantly on a touch enabled device too (plus, of course, the OS looks exactly the same across desktop, laptop, tablet and phone).
I forgot to say that the only OS that can manage Server 2012 is Windows 8. There won’t be any management tools released for W7, so it’s a case of either buying W8 or managing everything through remote desktop.