New Windows and SQL Azure Resources for the IT Pro

Thanks to Microsoft DPE for the Central Region, Keith Mayer (blog | twitter), for these great tips!

  • Windows 8.1 RTM and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits available on MSDN and TechNet subscription sites. This is the version I’m waiting for since it fully preserves the Start menu.
    • Note that updates are expected between RTM, now, and GA, October 18th.  Be sure to check Windows Updates 2-to-3 times weekly if installing these bits.  I’m not saying they’re unstable. But they are definitely changed frequently as the dev team makes final tuning and tweaking changes.
  • New Virtual Labs on Windows Server 2012 R2 and R2 Essentials:
  • TechNet Eval Center – Don’t forget that TechNet has been sunsetted and has only 90 days or so left before you’ll need to switch to MSDN for product bits.
    • Currently, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010 have been added with more expected in coming weeks:
    • Here’s an interesting new development – Microsoft has caught wind that many of us have to frequently install older versions of the bits.  For example, it’s not uncommon for a DBA to need to install SQL Server 2005.  You’ll now be able to get those bits from your TechNet/MSDN subscriptions under their “Previous Products” area.
  • Windows Azure Updates:
    • Scheduled Auto-Scaling of VM’s, WebSites and Cloud Services
    • Automated SQL Database exporting to Storage Account
    • SQL Database Premium Tier offers reserved capacity
    • Here’s a great blog ( stay on top of when SQL Server is your primary cloud focus.  New features in this release include SQL Server Always On Clusters Supported on Windows Azure – High Availability, Disaster Recovery, Read-Only Secondaries for Offloaded BI.
  • IE 11 Release Preview for Windows 7 releasing later this week – W3C Resource Prioririties, GPU acceleration, WebGL, ECMAScript 6, new “F12” Developer Tools. Look for details on the IE Blog ( ) later this week.
  • There’s a new App Studio for Windows Phone that’s entirely web-based.  Wow! No real coding and it’s all done on-line. It’s for Windows Phone Apps from Browser-based App Templates / Submit enabling you to directly upload them to the Windows Phone store.  Get involved with the program at  There’s also a cool looking App Builder Rewards program where you get points towards prizes for getting involved with the program:
  • Trade-in your iPad, Get $200 towards a Microsoft Surface:  Might be useful if you have an older iPad that’s just collecting dust.
  • “Early Experts” for Windows Server 2012 R2:

Let me know if this info is valuable.  Many thanks,


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