Microsoft readies previews of two new small business server updates

Summary:I was wrong Microsoft delivering this week new test builds of its new "Aurora" and "Vail" products this week. But the Softies did say on July 12 to expect not only an Aurora preview, but also an on-premises Small Business Server one, to arrive "before the end of our summer in the Pacific Northwest."

I was wrong Microsoft delivering this week new test builds of its new "Aurora" and "Vail" products this week. But the Softies did say on July 12 to expect not only an Aurora preview, but also an on-premises Small Business Server one, to arrive "before the end of our summer in the Pacific Northwest."

(I guess that means September/October?)

Microsoft has decided to do (at least) one more version of its Small Business Server. The new version, codenamed "Small Business Server 7," is based on the Windows Server 2008 R2 core and is 64-bit only. The SBS 7 bundle will include Exchange 2010 Service Pack (SP) 1, SharePoint 2010 Foundation and Windows Server Update Services 3.0. Microsoft will make available for an additional (so far, unspecified) fee an add-on with SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition for Small Business.

Aurora, as I noted last week, is the "kissing cousin" of the "Vail" Windows Home Server release, and is Microsoft's first foray into moving small businesses who want a server to think about going cloud. As the "We Got Served" site notes, Aurora will include connections to cloud-hosted enterprise offerings, like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, via subscriptions available for a monthly fee.

While Aurora does provide some Active Directory support, Microsoft has intentionally limited what it can do. Microsoft watcher Thurrott explains:

"Aurora cannot be added to an existing Active Directory (AD) domain. Instead, it must be the first server in a new domain. This will limit its uptake with existing customers, and I suspect that is very much on purpose. As a result, Aurora targets the smallest of the small businesses--those with 5 to 25 PCs--whereas SBS 7 can support up to 75 PCs."

Microsoft still isn't sharing timetables as to when the final version of SBS 7 and/or Aurora will launch. I had been hearing this year, but with the preview not coming until later, now I'm not so sure. Microsoft also is not yet sharing the distribution plans for these products. We Got Served has some informed speculation:

"It is anticipated that Aurora servers may well be available to buy off the shelf online and at big box retailers at release, in self-install 'appliance' configurations similar to Windows Home Server models – although it is likely that a significant proportion are likely to be sold through Microsoft’s army of small business specialists around the world."

I wonder if this is going to be Microsoft's last release of an on-premises SBS server product... I also wonder whether small businesses will prefer SBS 7 or Aurora (or Vail) if they're looking for a small-business server solution. Thoughts?

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Servers, SMBs

About

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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