Microsoft Aurora hybrid small-business server beta is ready for download

Summary:It's not just a new preview build of Windows Home Server Vail that is going to testers this month. The promised test builds of Microsoft's "Aurora" small-business server also is available for download by anyone who wants to kick its tires.

It's not just a new preview build of Windows Home Server Vail that is going to testers this month. The promised test builds of Microsoft's "Aurora" small-business server also is available for download by anyone who wants to kick its tires.

(I am not sure if the beta of Small Business Server 7 (SBS 7) is going to testers today, too. I've asked Microsoft officials and not received a conclusive answer. Stay tuned.

Microsoft officials told testers they were going to be able to get their hands on the two new versions of the company's SMB server products before August was out. On August 16, Microsoft officials announced they are making the Aurora beta available via the Microsoft Connect test site. Microsoft also is launching new tester support forums for the its forthcoming small-business products.

Here's a quick refresher as to what all of these codenames are:

  • Vail is the next version of Windows Home Server and is now being targeted at consumers only. A new preview release, which adds support for Apple's Mac OS X Time Machine, went out over this past weekend to select testers. No date from Microsoft as to when the final is due (guesstimates say late 2010).
  • SBS 7 is the successor to Small Business Server 2008 and includes the Windows Server 2008 R2 core. It is an entirely software-based offering. This is a server bundle for those with 75 users or fewer. No date from Microsoft as to when the final is due. (2011?)
  • Aurora is a hybrid on-prem/cloud server for customers with fewer than 25 users and who are currently relying on a peer-to-peer netowrk or no corporate network at all. Aurora will be comprised of a small on-premises Server core, supplemented by a number of cloud services, starting with Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), plus some as-yet-unspecified others. No date from Microsoft as to when the final is due. (2011?)

Microsoft also is making available for download by select testers a software development kit (codenamed "Colorado"). The SDK is a toolset for extending the platforms by developing server and client add-ins. In the case of Aurora, developers can use the SDK to create services that interoperate with the forthcoming server.

I'm curious what testers think of Aurora. Partners and customers in the market for a new low-end server: Do you have a preference -- Aurora, SBS 7 (or Vail)?  Which interests you and why?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Servers, SMBs

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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