Microsoft touts Windows Server 2012, Azure for data center 'cloud OS'

Microsoft also announced new and upgraded enterprise application development products

Microsoft kicked off its TechEd North America conference with a wide-ranging keynote session that was short on "wow" news but heavy on positioning for Windows Server 2012, Windows Azure and server-side products as key components of what the company is calling "the era of the cloud OS."

Organizations need server tools and operating systems in their data centers that can deliver and support a wide variety of Internet-connected devices and of always-on Web applications, said Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server & Tools division.

These new requirements offer organizations and their IT departments "a huge opportunity to reinvent ourselves," said Nadella, who led the 90-minute keynote and was assisted by several Microsoft staffers who gave demos of Windows Server, Azure, SQL Server 2012 and other products.

Like previous Windows OSes for servers, Server 2012 still does the basic two tasks of managing hardware and providing a platform for applications, but the scale has changed now to data center proportions, he said. Windows Server 2012 is still in beta test mode.

Meanwhile, the applications reside on the cloud and must be available via a variety of devices, while taking into account the users' identities and offering social features, Nadella said.

Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure -- Microsoft's public cloud application hosting and development platform -- have been designed with these new requirements in mind "so you can usher in the era of the cloud OS in your own organization," he said.

Microsoft also announced a new version of the Windows Intune PC and mobile device management tool, which the company said now features more capabilities for managing mobile devices.

The company also unveiled a public preview of Microsoft Team Foundation Service, an application lifecycle management tools hosted on Windows Azure designed to streamline application development and deployment.

In addition, Microsoft announced that LightSwitch, a development tool for building applications quickly, now renders HTML5, so developers will be able to create applications for devices or platforms that support HTML5.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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