There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

Summary: There's one more new Windows Server variant in the Microsoft pipeline, in addition to Vail, Aurora and SBS 7. Here's a bit more on Windows Server Breckenridge.


It's been a while since we've heard anything from Microsoft about its home and small-business servers in the pipeline. But  it sounds like they're getting closer to shipping.

Most of the soon-to-be-released servers have Colorado-themed codenames. There's Vail (the next version of Windows Home Server); Aurora (the hybrid cloud/on-premises small-business server); and Colorado (the SDK/toolkit for these servers). There's also SBS 7, the next version of Microsoft's on-premises Small Business Server product.

It turns out, there's one more member of the Colorado family that's in the pipeline: Breckenridge.

Here's a mention of Breckenridge from a privacy statement on the Microsoft Connect download site:

(click on the image above to enlarge)

I got a couple of tips earlier this year about Windows Server Breckenridge, but couldn't find anyone who knew what it was. It turns out Breckenridge is a derivative of Windows Home Server Vail that is optimized to function as a storage server.

Microsoft already offers a Windows Storage Server product -- the latest release of which was delivered to OEMs in September. Windows Storage Server is server appliance product aimed at business users and sold by partners including Dell, Fujitsu, HP and NEC. Microsoft does not sell Storage Server directly to customers via retail or other channels.

At this point, I don't know any specifics about Breckenridge. I'll be curious to see the extent to which Breckenridge will rely on the cloud for backup. Windows expert Paul Thurrott noted in April of this year that one area where Vail has fallen short is in backup. From a Thurrott Windows SuperSite blog post about Vail from April 2010:

"Where WHS falls short, from a storage perspective, is with server backup, especially to the cloud. Yes, Vail does offer some very basic support for backing up the server shares, but it's to external, local disks only, and it's a manual process. So if you're looking for offsite backup, feel free to regularly rotate those backup disks yourself and drive them to a different location. A solution that tied into cloud based storage would be vastly preferable. (Something akin to the Iron Mountain backup functionality in Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2010.)"

Vail, Aurora and SBS 7 have been available to public beta testers since the summer/fall of this year. Microsoft is on track to release the final versions of these home/small-business servers by the end of 2010/early 2011, according to Microsoft President of Server and Tools Bob Muglia. (I'm not sure whether Breckenridge is on the same ship schedule.)

Vail is the next version of Windows Home Server and is now being targeted at consumers only. Vail adds support for Apple's Mac OS X Time Machine, among other new features. 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.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 network 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.

Update: Microsoft announced the final names and pricing/estimated availability for a number of its coming small-business servers on November 2.

Aurora will be known as Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. Estimated retail pricing is $545 (U.S.) and is the product expected to release in the first half of 2011, according to Microsoft. (I'd say expect it to go on the earlier side, like early 2011, based on what Muglia told me last week.)

SBS 7 will be known as Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard. The additional server add-on to Small Business Server 2011 Standard will be known as Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-on. Estimated retail pricing for SBS 2011 Standard is $1,096US, with CALs approximately $72 (U.S.) SBS 2011 Standard will be available through all current Microsoft server licensing channels and is expected to release in December, 2010. Further availability through OEM’s and System Builders is expected starting February, 2011. Estimated retail pricing for SBS 2011 Premium Add-on is $1,604 (U.S,.), with client-access licenses going for approximately $92 (U.S.). SBS 2011 Premium Add-on will also be available with the release of SBS 2011 Standard in December.

Topics: SMBs, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Servers, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

    Surely Breckenridge is the "Ultimate" version of Windows Home Server with built-in Windows Media Center features that just about everyone in the community has been clamouring for but has so far gone ignored? ;D<br><br>BTW, we are not talking about putting WHS in a living rooms, rather having it somewhere else but with tuners installed and using Xbox or other extenders or Windows PC (or Windows Phone) to schedule recordings and stream them to wherever in the house (or via WHS streaming on the Internet) where they are wanted.

    On Microsoft Connect that suggestion (503076) is the #2 top request and has 954 votes for versus 62 against...
    • I was wondering the same thing

      if a WHS was coming with native Media Center capabilities.

      As it sits right now, One computer in my house runing Windows 7 with a tuner card is my "DVR, but incorporating it into the server with all my movies and music would be ideal.
      John Zern
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    • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

      @spc1972, when Mary Jo's specifically says "It turns out Breckenridge is a derivative of Windows Home Server Vail that is optimized to function as a storage server."...well that pretty much sums it up.

      If it is Tuner consolidation you are after, don't want to install tuner hardware in each PC or just want to share the tuners you have among the Media Center PCs you have in your home...well there are hardware products from SiliconDust and Ceton that enable this today. You can also install a product like DVBLink on your Windows Home Server to share local tuners. With products like these, the advantage of a DVR enabled Home Server is diminished. However, I think the demand for optimized/network storage would go up.

      Personally, I'd like to see Microsoft do more to leverage Windows Home Server (Vail, Aurora and/or Breckenridge) to extend Live SkyDrive into the home.
      • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

        @USArcher I was being sarcastic; it's a very British trait. My post was intended as a light-hearted dig in the ribs for the folks on the WHS team who have consistently ignored this specific item of feedback from the community without anyone from the WMC product team offering any kind of vision (except the announcement of WMC functionality being offered as part of Windows Embedded 7). <br><br>Personally, I dislike how I have to keep both a WMC PC in the living room and a WHS in the garage running 24*7. To me, it is a very obvious consolidation of functionality that would enable the WHS (with tuner support and remote WMC services) run 24*7 and make the media content available to WMC enabled devices as well as DLNA devices on-demand.
    • I'll second this request

      @spc1972 I offer the following prediction - This is by far the most requested WHS feature from the folks I talk to, but would apparently be seen as a threat to Windows Premium in some twisted way. It would be just the opposite but like so many other great ideas at msft if it threatens Windows or Office it will die. So once again - msft has the technology, has very clear feedback from current customers, has a lead in this space, and purports to have a vision of "3 screens and a cloud" yet will utterly fail to execute until Apple shows them the way. This is such a clear opportunity, if they put proper UI / ease of use engineering into it, working with h/w partners such as HP, Samsung, etc to create the ultimate media server appliance - they could own the living room. My prediction: Apple will ship this product in 1 year, it will leverage the iPad as a unified controller, integrate with iTunes, time machine, etc. Ballmer/Gates will say it sucks, 1 year and 5 million units later Google will have something comparable on the market, and Msft will sheepishly say that in another 6 months they will offer a me-too clone with fewer feature / no controller, and the Apple juggernaut will march on. Let's check back in a year.....
  • Wireless?

    WHS needs Wi-Fi N. Why can't they add that?
    • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

      For whom? I'd bet that 90% of users have their WHS units next to their router. This is not like some settop box that you are placing next to each TV in your home. I'm not critical of your idea, just don't see the demand. And if you really want this, you could install a USB WIFI Adapter.
  • Home server needs raid 5 - that's it

    Microsoft dropped the ball with their weird copy/JBOD drive array system.

    There should be 1 drive for the OS, and 3 for raid 5. Done deal.
  • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

    What about LightSwitch Appliance? :-)
  • RE: There's another new Windows Server in the Microsoft pipeline

    Interesting that you bring up a reference to bpos? Considering the time frame for launch for aurora, does this actually mean office 365...
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