imageIn Windows Server 2012 we introduced a new version called Windows Server 2012 Essentials edition.  The Essentials server is very flexible and easy-to-use.  This was a server solution that was primarily designed and priced for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices.  This provided a great first server for many customers, as well as it can be used as the primary server in a multi-server environment for small businesses.

With the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Server we really added many features to make this an even more rounded server.  The Essential server also provides a ton of flexibly for deployment and functionality.  We even included the popular client computer backup from Windows Home server.  The Windows Server Essentials Experience role is available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter.

What’s New In Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

When you install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, you can take advantage of all the features that are available to you in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the locks and limits enforced in it. The Windows Server Essentials Experience role enables you to:

  • Protect your server and client data by backing up your server and all the client computers within your network.
  • Manage your users and groups through the simplified server Dashboard. In addition, integration with Windows Azure Active Directory enables easy data access for Microsoft online services users (for example, Office 365, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online users) through their domain credentials.
  • Store your company’s data in a centralized location.
  • Integrate your server with Microsoft online services, such as Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Windows Intune.
    • Integration with Office 365 enables you to synchronize and manage Office 365 user accounts and access through the Dashboard.
    • Integration with SharePoint Online enables you to create and manage SharePoint libraries through the Dashboard.
  • Use the Anywhere Access functionalities on the server (such as Remote Web Access and virtual private networks) to access your server, network computers, and data from remote locations in a highly secure manner.
  • Access data from any location and on any device by using the company’s customized web portal (through Remote Web Access).
  • Manage mobile devices that access company emails by using Office 365 through Active Sync from the Dashboard.
  • Monitor network health and obtain customized health reports. The reports can be created on demand, customized, and sent by email to specified recipients.

With Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials we have added a lot of new functionality, review the following table:

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Deployment Options Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Edition

What makes the new R2 essentials edition is the different ways you can deploy the functionality into your organization. 

  • You can deploy it as a stand alone server
  • You can also deploy this as a server role on Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter or Standard edition
  • Physical or Virtual Deployments are supported.
  • Windows Azure

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If you have not yet tried Windows Azure go to http://aka.ms/getazureiaas to setup your trial account and when you add a new virtual machine you will have the ability to quickly deploy a Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials edition.  For this post I am going to step you through the installation of the Essentials experience on a Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter server.  In a future post I will take you through the rest of the configuration.

Step-by-Step Installing the Essentials Experience

  1. Open Server Manager on your server
  2. Select Dashboard on the left hand navigation bar
  3. Click the Add Roles and Features link
  4. In the Add Roles Features Wizard, review the before you begin message and click Next
  5. On Installation Type verify Role-based or Feature-based installation is selected and click Next
  6. On Server Selection Screen, select the server you wish to install the Essentials Experience on and click Next
  7. On Server Roles select Windows Server Essentials Experience.  You may be prompted to add additional features for the Windows Server Essentials Experience,  review the additions and click Add Features:
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    Notice: The Essentials experience will also install the Web Server Role, After you have added roles and features click Next:

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  8. On Features, review the selections and Click Next
  9. On Window Server Essentials Experience, review the message and click Next

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  10. On Web Server Role (IIS) review the message and click Next
  11. On Role and Services, review the selections and click Next.
  12. On Confirmation review the installation and click Install
  13. On Results, verify the installation was successful and click Close.
  14. You will be returned to Server Manager, and in the upper left hand portion of the Window click on the notification flag.

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  15. Click on Configure Windows Server Essentials
  16. On Configure Windows Server Essentials welcome page review the message and click Next
  17. On Company information fill in your Company name and Domain name and click Next

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  18. On Create a network administrator account, type in the information for your administrator account and click Configure.   The configuration process may take up to 30 minutes and your server will reboot, so go get your favorite beverage and relax. 

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  19. After server reboots you will see the Results, verify the installation was successful and click Close.  Also close server manager.

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After the installation you will now have a new icon on your desktop called Dashboard, double click this and it will launch the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard (screen very similar is shown below)  I will this wonderful tool in another series of posts.  In the meantime go deploy your own server and start taking a tour!

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To learn more about Windows Server Essentials take a look here:

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 Essentials

To download Windows Server 2012 R2, where you can install the essentials role please click here:

http://aka.ms/getwindowsserver2012R2 

For the full list in the series:  Windows Server 2012 R2 Launch Blog Series Index #WhyWin2012R2