Today we announced Windows Essential Business Server as the official name for Windows Server codename "Centro," our upcoming IT solution designed for mid-sized organizations.  We unveiled details about the product, available here, as well as an initial set of hardware and software partners supporting the solution. If you are interested in applying for the private beta, go here.

Microsoft has conducted a tremendous amount of research on how IT is done in mid-sized businesses (usually 75-250 PCs.)  We visited hundreds of customers, brought them to Redmond, did focus groups, established customer and partner advisory boards, and more.  We got great, detailed input on how this product can help our mid-market customers simplify processes, improve reliability and generally shift their role from "reactive firefighter" to a more strategic, proactive asset to the business.  Some members of our technology adopter program comment in today's story in eWeek here.

Essential Business Server combines Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, System Center Essentials, Forefront Security for Exchange, the next version of ISA and SQL Server 2008 (in Premium Edition) into an "all-in-one" solution.  But the product is truly more than the sum of its parts and delivers new technology above and beyond the component products.  Essential Business Server provides a single point of management for all of the components and workloads, as well as third party software applications, and incorporates an incredible amount of best practices.  We estimate set up will require 75% fewer steps than what is required today, for example. In addition, it has a single server license and a single client access license, as well as features to help IT track, manage and re-assign licenses. 

Microsoft hardware partners that are already planning to support Essential Business Server include Fujitsu Siemens, HP, IBM and Intel.  Software partners already developing or planning on creating "Add-Ins" for the Essential Business Server console include CA, Citrix, FullArmor, McAfee, Quest, Symantec and Trend Micro.  Microsoft applications will add-in, too, of course.

We'll be demonstrating Windows Essential Business Server at TechEd:  IT Forum next week in Barcelona.  The product is targeted to ship in the second half of 2008.

Joel Sider