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First of all - This news is a week old. I apologize for not putting it here sooner. Too busy to blog lately (as usual). I still think this is too cool not to share, though.
"Windows Essentials Business Server? What is it?"
As a former IT Manager, and in talking to so many IT Pros and IT Managers in my current job, I have heard and experienced first-hand the frustration of the 1-3 person IT group. Your company is too big for Small Business Server, but the next choice is to buy multiple servers at higher costs, and having to basically become an MCSE overnight to create and support it. **
So... there has been a real need to have a lower-cost, easier to administer solution for companies that can't do it just on one server, but aren't quite to the point where they're ready to put in a raised floor and HVAC system. An offering something like Small Business Server, but with a couple of servers, more users supported, and easy-to-use management tools like the ones that have made SBS so popular.
Windows Essentials Business Server is the product (or are products) that address this directly.
Windows Essential Business Server Editions
Click for larger version.
This article in Microsoft PressPass describes the bundle, and includes screenshots of what some of the administrative functions look like.
"Kevin.. is this based on Windows Server 2003? Or is this going to be on Windows Server 2008 like 'Cougar'?"
It's based on Windows Server 2008. So this means, that - like "Cougar" (the yet-to-be-officially-named next version of Small Business Server), it will be arriving sometime after the release of Windows Server 2008.
Watch the Windows Server web site for more information. And Kevin Beares has a great blog all about the SBS, WEBS, and WHS, and the rapidly growing community of users. (Check it out - he's got an invite code there on his blog that will let you get in on the Beta at http://connect.microsoft.com
** Well, not really.. but I bet if you asked all the MCSEs out there what one of their main motivators was to get that certification, the majority will say that it was the real pressing on-the-job need to support a growing business IT infrastructure. Ah.. we love our jobs. <smile>