Microsoft finalizes Windows Server Essentials 2012 small-business server

Microsoft's Windows Server Essentials 2012 will be preloaded on servers from OEM partners before the end of the year.

Microsoft has released to manufacturing Windows Server 2012 Essentials -- the successor to Windows Small Business Server -- company officials announced on October 9.

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Microsoft is now delivering the product to its OEMs. It should be generally available in "all channels" on November 1, according to a new blog post, with OEMs shipping preloaded servers running the new operating system before the end of calendar 2012.

A downloadable trial version is available for evaluation purposes as of October 9. Simon Bisson of ZDNet UK reviewed the beta of the product in July.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is Microsoft's intended replacement for Windows Small Business Server and Windows Home Server (for those SMBs who were using WHS for business purposes). The Essentials product is a hybrid on-premises/cloud server. It will have a 25-user limit and sell for $425, Microsoft officials have said. Windows Server 2012 Essentials is one of four Windows Server 2012 flavors , with the other three being Foundation, Standard and Datacenter.

Among other features, Windows Server 2012 Essentials offers an on-site backup option with Windows Azure; cloud-based e-mail and collaboration (either using Office 365 or via a hosted service provider); and support for Storage Spaces disk-pooling.

Microsoft made the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows Server 2012 Essentials available to testers in August.

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