by STB Blogger

Great news!  We reached another important milestone on the road to the final release of Windows Server 2012 Essentials:  the Release Candidate (RC) is available now for download and evaluation.  

If customers haven’t started exploring the product yet, this new pre-release version is an ideal time to begin.  Customer and partner feedback on the Beta release has helped us prioritize the changes we have made – so thanks to everyone who provided feedback to us.

Here are some of the major changes in the RC:

  • Increased support for importing customers’ SSL certificates. Previously, customers had to do a lot of work to configure domains obtained in our domain wizard with SSL certificates that were acquired outside of our domain wizard. We have now updated our wizard which should make this process much simpler.
  • Install only critical setup updates during setup. One of the things that all Microsoft teams care about is getting customers up and running as quickly as possible. With the RC release we have changed our logic to only install critical setup related updates during setup time. This might not seem a big issue if customers only occasionally install Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but to partners that install Windows Server 2012 Essentials often, this change will make setup faster and more predictable. Note that customers will continue to select the update strategy they want to use after the server has been setup.
  • SBS Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) changes. We have updated the BPA rules to include the latest set of rules and have also made it possible to ignore specific BPA rules using our UI.
  • Office 365 changes. We have now made it easier to import existing Office 365 users into Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
  • Verified DHCP is supported.  Windows Server 2012 Essentials supports turning on the DHCP role and setting a static IP for the server.

We are now turning our sights towards the Windows Server 2012 Essentials release to manufacturing (RTM). The other Windows Server 2012 editions released to manufacturing at the beginning of August. Our goal has been to release Windows Server 2012 Essentials to manufacturing and make it generally available by the end of 2012 and we remain committed to this target.

For more information on the RC milestone, check out the Windows Server Essentials and Small Business Server blog.