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As some of you may have already noticed, earlier this morning Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will be available to consumers and businesses worldwide on October 18, 2013

But before you start your 8.1 party (with a DJ in a data center, for example), there’s even more good news: 

I’m excited to announce that, on the same day, eligible customers will be able to download Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, as well as the latest update to Windows Intune!  We’ll make evaluation versions available through the TechNet Evaluation Center, and these products will be available for new purchases when they hit the price list on November 1st.

Is it a coincidence that this will be 501st anniversary of Michelangelo exhibiting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time?  If you love great works of art, then it’s up to you to decide.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the common planning efforts and engineering milestones we shared during the development of this R2 wave – and seeing these products and services become generally available on the same day (with all their integrated scenarios!) is the ultimate benefit!

I encourage you to keep learning about the 2012 R2 releases via our “What’s New in 2012 R2” series on this blog, and also download the preview bits if you haven’t already done it.