Windows Small Business Server 2011 to go on sale this week

Windows Small Business Server 2011 hits the general-availability milestone on March 17, I'm hearing. What about the rest of the "Colorado" family?

Microsoft released to manufacturing its Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 product in December 2010. But the product is only becoming generally available, through all of the various marketing channels, as of March 17, I'm hearing from my sources.

(I've asked Microsoft officials for confirmation, but have yet to hear back. I'll update this post once I do.)

With SBS 2011 hitting general availability, it seems like a good time to revisit the many well-codenamed but not so easily-remembered final-named new Windows Server "Colorado" family of products coming to market.

The Colorado family is built around Windows Server 2008 R2 codebase. Each of the products targets a somewhat different audience. Vail is being pitched as a consumer/entertainment product, while the rest of the family is being positioned as SMB products. Here's the line-up: "SBS 7" -- a k a SBS 2011 -- is the on-premises small-business successor to SBS 2008. SBS 2011 comes in two flavors Standard and Premium Add-on. The products were made available to volume licensees in early January and to those wanting to download a trial copy as of mid-January. Availability through OEM’s and System Builders was supposed to begin in February, 2011. Estimated retail pricing for SBS 2011 Standard is $1,096, with client-access licenses (CALs) going for approximately $72. Estimated retail pricing for SBS 2011 Premium Add-on is $1,604, with CALs costing $92.

"Breckenridge" -- a k a Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials -- is new version of the company's platform for networked-storage appliances. Microsoft has yet to release the final version of this product, which will be sold via OEMs. There are rumors that the RTM date for Breckenridge is at the end of March 2011.

"Vail" -- a k a Windows Home Server 2011 -- is Microsoft's home server. Its core Windows enthusiast audience has been none too happy about Microsoft's decision to remove Drive Extender functionality from the product, but it's out and staying out. Word on the street is that Microsoft may RTM Vail around the end of March. Microsoft delivered the Release Candidate of Vail in February 2011.

"Aurora" -- a k a  Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials -- is a hybrid on-premises/cloud server. The on-premises Server Core is supplemented by BPOS/Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud products (not yet specified by Microsoft) with this new product. Estimated retail pricing is $545 (with no CALs required), Microsoft officials said last year. Microsoft released the RC of Aurora in February, 2011. Word (unconfirmed by Microsoft) is that the final version of Aurora may RTM at the end of March 2011.  (There's a little understandable codename confusion over at Geeksmack.net, but I believe they are saying Vail, Aurora and Breckenridge, as I've described them here, are likely to RTM this month.)

I'll be interested to see how Aurora ends up doing, sales-wise, compared to SBS 2011. Are SMB customers and partners ready for a hybrid server?