In an exercise in vendor neutrality - well, kinda - it's not exactly altruistic - Amazon Web Services is now offering a bunch of pre-built virtual instances of the Windows Server 2012 operating system, the server version of Windows 8, so Windows users can hew to Microsoft's upgrade roadmap and still adopt Amazon's cloud all at the same time.
The addition, which includes SQL Server, was announced this week by Amazon's Windows team leader Tom Rizzo, a recent refugee from Redmond.
Amazon already supports Windows Server 2003 R2, 2008 and 2008 R2 but Server 2012 can be used with Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk automatic application provisioning and deployment service as well as EC2.
Beanstalk, which is still in beta, is supposed to automatically take care of ASP.NET application provisioning details such as capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application health monitoring.
Amazon is also going to offer Windows Server 2012 as part of its Free Usage Tier of micro instances good for 750 hours a month for a year to encourage users to increase CPU cloud capacity while evaluating Windows Server 2012 and other services. They can go to production when they're ready.
Amazon will also support Visual Studio 2012.
Integrated with the Visual Studio tools, Amazon said, is AWS Explorer so users can see all of their AWS resources without leaving the Visual Studio environment.
Microsoft's Windows Azure, of course, supports Windows Server 2012, which was released in September. So does Rackspace.
Windows Server 2012 is supposed to tempt people to see how the cloud works. Amazon has also attracted its share of Windows shops it needs to support.
As far as the cloud goes Windows Server 2912 is supposed to offer better software-defined networking and improved remote configuration through PowerShell commands compared to its predecessors. The widgetry includes the Internet Information Services (IIS) 8.0 web server and version 4.5 of the .NET Framework.