Amazon Introduces Windows Server 2012 R2 To AWS

Locked in an unrelenting price and performance war with Microsoft Azure, AWS has made another move to beef up the functionality of its cloud, this time by introducing its rival’s latest operating system.

Windows Server 2012 R2, the most advanced Microsoft server OS, can now be provisioned on instances of Amazon’s EC2 cloud platform, allowing enterprises running Windows applications to enjoy the benefits of the OS introduced in October of last year.

Offering the Microsoft product wipes away one competitive advantage that Azure enjoyed over AWS, Amazon’s channel partners told CRN.

[Related: Amazon-VMware Friction Heating Up As Enterprise Cloud Battle Kicks Into Higher Gear ]

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Windows Server 2012 R2 provides Amazon’s channel with another option they can offer customers to increase functionality and performance, ensuring they have the right solution for their workload.

"The availability of Windows Server 2012 R2 brings Amazon’s IaaS offering up to par with Microsoft’s on the OS front,’ Wylie Graham, a strategic IT consultant at Nimbo, told CRN.

The new OS "allows the use of some great, and updated, Microsoft technologies such as DirectAccess from within an AWS deployment,’ Graham added.

Release 2, as the OS is sometimes referred to, added new features and functionality to Microsoft’s popular server operating system. Those include tiered storage capabilities through which the operating system shuffles data between the fastest memory devices available on the system.

R2 also brought back the Windows Start button.

"We're really pleased with this news,’ Matt Gerber, executive vice president of sales and market at 2nd Watch, an Amazon Premier Partner, told CRN.

"As expected, Amazon continues to be a leader in the cloud infrastructure space, and this news demonstrates again that AWS is the right platform for our enterprise customers," Gerber said.

The new OS option will be available to all AWS customers, including those who fall in the Free Usage Tier, according to Amazon.