Microsoft to deliver its new small-business server by end of 2012

Microsoft has made available for download a near-final release candidate of its hybrid on-premises/cloud server for small and mid-size businesses.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft already started rolling out the final versions of most of its Windows Server 2012 SKUs this month. The last of them -- Windows Server 2012 Essentials, which is its small/mid-size business server -- will be out before year-end, officials said this week.

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.

Here's Microsoft's chart listing the four editions of Windows Server 2012, for those who want/need a refresher:


Microsoft made the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows Server 2012 Essentials available to testers on August 21. There were a few major changes between the beta of the product, which went to testers in July, and the RC. Among them, according to a Microsoft blog post on the subject:

  • Increased support for importing SSL certificates
  • Installation of only critical setup updates during setup (a feature requested by a number of partners)
  • More granular settings for Windows SBS Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) rules
  • Changes to simplify the importing of existing Office 365 users into Windows Server 2012 Essentials
  • Verified DHCP support

The free RC of Windows Server 2012 Essentials can be downloaded from Microsoft's download site.

The final version of the Windows Server 2012 Essentials will be released to manufacturing and made generally available before the year is over, officials said in this week's blog post.

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