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Earlier this week Microsoft released a preview version of Windows 8.1. Of course, I updated my Surface RT to the new version, and it's quite the delight.

Some new features include Start-button, Desktop background on Startscreen, and an Outlook client. There are plenty more features, but these are the Top 3.

Windows 8 lacks some key apps, but I very much believe that Windows 8 Devices should ultimately rule the world. iPad seems like just an expensive toy, when comparing to the capabilities of Windows 8 on a touch device. Adding a touch/type keyboard to the Surface makes it even more powerful. A 0.6 kg laptop. Love it!

What I also love about Windows 8 and Surface is the ability to connect to our Corporate VPN and manage all our servers without any troubles. Of course, that could be done with an iPad, but on a Surface with a keyboard, it's a much more solid experience.

What I lack the most is Windows Live Writer. So consider this a test post, since I don't have any idea how Word will handle my blog markup.

It’s quite the big week now. In terms of Microsoft Software that is. Microsoft has unveiled preview after preview this week. Yesterday they released previews for Windows 8.1, Visual Studio 2013 and Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5.1. That’s just one day after releasing previews for Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 and System Center 2012 R2.

I’ve installed Windows 8.1 Preview on a Hyper-V machine, and also installed Visual Studio 2013 Preview. Now I’m ready to take it for a spin.

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The Visual Studio start experience. So far it looks a lot like Visual Studio 2012, which is good. From what I’ve read, they’ve worked a lot with the TFS experience, which wasn’t that good in 2012.

Since I’m mainly a Web Developer, I’ll test the Web Application Features first.

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At this point I’ve already found some new features. Some new ASP.NET Project Templates, like Facebook Application and Mobile Application. Personally I don’t like Templates, since they take away pretty much all my control over the Project. For instance, when creating a Web Project from the Mobile Template, there are about 40 Library References automatically added to my Project. Maybe I’m old school, but I prefer to add References only when I need them, and after some serious consideration.

This of course has nothing to do with the new Visual Studio. It’s more of a personal note :)

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When pulling up Team Explorer I notice some new (long awaited) features. Team Explorer in Visual Studio 2012 got a lot of both hate and love, since it changed pretty much everything from previous versions. In Visual Studio 2013 Microsoft has been listening to the the developers and improved Team Explorer.

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The Pending Changes Window can now be separated from the Team Explorer Window, and be placed anywhere in the IDE. This is something I’ve missed since Visual Studio 2010.

I’ll pause my tests for now and head out for some lunch. During which I’ll seriously consider if I should install Visual Studio 2013 Preview on my production machine.

Today Microsoft released a preview version of its upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2. The preview is very interesting for us right now, since we’re only a stones throw away from migrating our entire IT organization at Mindbite to Windows Server 2012.

Tomorrow Microsoft kicks off its Build Conference where the unveiling of Windows 8.1 will take place. A preview version of Windows 8.1 is highly expected to be released by tomorrow. And the Server Preview comes hand in hand with that.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner we’ve already gained access to Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview, and I’ve also installed it on one of our servers. To get an early glimpse of how Windows 8.1 will work, I’ve installed the Desktop Experience feature on the Server Preview.

Here are some screenshots from Windows Server 2012 R2

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And as with Windows 8/Server 2012 Beta, the Bet(ta) fish is back (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betta)

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