Your Guide to the Latest Windows Server Product Information
What an exciting time to be part of the Windows Server team! Earlier this week we announced the RTM and general availability of Windows Server 2012 in conjunction with the Windows 8 team's announcement of their dates. Since then we’ve seen a steady stream of exciting news coming out of Toronto where the 2012 World Wide Partner Conference is being held. Today I'm happy to host Joe Nalewabau from the Windows Server Essentials team to make yet another exciting announcement. By now you should be picking up on some reoccurring themes that keep showing up in these blogs:
Hi, I’m Joe Nalewabau, Group Program Manager on the Windows Server Essentials team, and today I’m excited to introduce the beta for Windows Server 2012 Essentials (Essentials 2012). The beta is a significant engineering milestone for the team. We’d obviously like to get as much feedback on the product as possible and you can see and give feedback on the beta through the Windows Server Essentials 2012 Beta Essentials forum. We are working hard to deliver Essentials 2012 this year and so your feedback on the beta will be critical to us over the next few weeks as we work towards a release candidate and an eventual RTM. As David Fabritius mentioned in his post last week, Essentials 2012 represents a significant milestone for the product. We have made some changes to the way that we think about the first-server market (SMBs, home offices, etc.) and the products that we offer in this space based on feedback from our customers and partners. This post will provide some high-level insight on how the engineering strategy as we built Essentials 2012. We will follow up with additional blog posts containing deeper information about specific features in the coming weeks. From an engineering perspective, we planned Essentials 2012 around four core principles:
Simplicity and flexibility for customers and partners Historically, the engineering team has developed and supported a number of solution products based on Windows Server. The current in-market products developed and supported by our team include: Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 Standard, Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, Windows Home Server (WHS) 2011, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. We also support previous versions of SBS Standard and WHS.
These products are not targeted at the traditional IT Pros. We spend a lot of time creating simple and integrated experiences that will work for non-IT Pros with the help of our broader partner ecosystem of OEMs, Value-Added Resellers and the Small Business Solution Specialist Community. We approached simplicity and flexibility for customers in Essentials 2012 in a number of ways:
Better together with Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Windows Server 2012 enables an amazing number of scenarios and key technologies for customers. In Essentials 2012 we looked through the huge number of Windows Server features and chose specific ones to deeply integrate. I’d like to call out a few major technologies or processes from Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 that we have integrated:
Of course, customers also get a whole range of Windows Server 2012 technologies for free which makes the release even more compelling. Increased Device support Another area of focus for the team was around extending our level of support for devices. We know that customers using our existing products have multiple devices and they want to access information and/or control their server from these devices. In Essentials 2012 we have expanded our device support in a number of different ways:
Continue integrating with Cloud Services Another major focus for us is continuing to integrate with cloud services. Based on research and feedback from our customers we know that many people are looking for ways to integrate with cloud services and we wanted to ensure that Essentials 2012 had great integration with Microsoft’s offerings:
Essentials 2012 has a rich SDK that allows customers and partners to integrate additional services into the server. We made sure that existing add-ins for SBS 2011 Essentials and WHS 2011 continue to run in Essentials 2012. Summary We are excited about Essentials 2012 and thrilled to be able to get the beta in your hands. The engineering team is eagerly looking forward to hearing your feedback which will help make Essentials 2012 a great release.
Hi, what about us alienated WHS folks? Too expensive.
@Graham. Yes, it is an expensive option to the current WHS. I believe that there are some really amazing options here that were obviously missing / removed in WHS 2011 that caused quite a stir if you recall. Namely, Drive Extender. With the introduction of Windows Server 2012 Essentials you now get DE back kind of. With the introduction of Storage Spaces you just got back the ability and flexibility to add drives of different sizes into your storage pool. When our enthusiasts for WHS were faced with the removal of DE they had to look at some very costly alternatives like Drobo or RAID. 2012 Essentials comes in at a much lower cost than those more costly alternatives. I am not saying that having a DC in the home is the best solution for most, but for our enthusiasts, it just might be the answer. I haven't seen the WHS MVPs weigh in on this. So, I think the jury is still out. Thanks for question.
Senior Community Lead for Windows Server and Cloud (formally the guy who ran the V1 WHS beta and still openly loves WHS and will be installing 2012 Essentials into his house as his new Home Server)
SOME of your enthusiasts went to DROBO and RAID, I did not, as I'm sure many also did not. The price is unacceptable for a home software product. Is there any plan to still support a home server market, or is Microsoft giving up the space? I'm not going to pay that much for a home software product, and its a shame, because I want to use it. Why not a 10 user restricted version? Or are you afraid too many small business will buy it instead of this version? Is that was is really going on here?
Will domain access be required for Server Essentials? Secondly, can WHS2011 do an in-place upgrade to Essentials 2012?
Also a WHS v1 and 2011 user and provider, so I'm a bit sad (if not despondent) to see a $99 server OS supplanted by one coming in at over $400. I have several questions regarding Essentials 2012:
1) since you're emphasizing the value-add of Storage Spaces, is it safe to assume ReFS is supported in Essentials 2012?
2) will there be a common Dashboard-style management UI for remote management? will it be customizable based on the application (home server, SMB, storage/NAS, etc.)?
3) since you say Essentials 2012 RWA "supports" media streaming, does that mean there will be a media streaming web app that functions in the same way as the current WHS site (i.e. Silverlight- or HTML5-based RIA that streams supported media in browser)?
4) will client computer backups still be supported & managed from the server? will OBS support extend to client backups?
I'm planning on taking one of my WHS boxes out of production to test various scenarios. Thanks!
I just installed the WSE 2012 beta.
It is an evolution of the SBS 2011 Essentials product. It sets up an Active Directory during the install, that's built in just like it was in SBS Essentials 2011. It is not a "workgroup" setup like WHS 2011.
There are media streaming options in the Remote Web Access site. I didn't play around with WHS 2011 very much but from what I remember and what I see now the media streaming in WSE 2012 looks very similar. This is really Server 2012 with just a few limitations so almost everything you can do with Server 2012 you can do on WSE 2012. Storage Spaces are there, you can do pools setup as simple, mirror, and parity. ReFS is there as well. Client backups are part of WSE 2012 too, just like in SBS Essentials 2011.
Question for Microsoft...
I realize there are a few limits to WSE 2012, like the 25 user limit. I was playing with adding new server roles and noticed the Hyper-V role isn't there. That makes sense, it wouldn't be a good idea to run VMs on top of WSE 2012. I noticed that that management tools for Direct Access aren't there. Too bad, I was hoping to test it out but I realize this is more an of enterprise feature. Well it was, now that it can be done with a single NIC I think it will be much easier to use for small businesses too. Hopefully if a customer chooses to upgrade and remove the specific WSE 2012 limits, Direct Access will be allowed.
One role I was VERY surprised to see missing was the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) role. I thought okay, no big deal I'll just download and install WSUS 3.0 SP2 on my own. I fired up the install and it was blocked saying the program has compatibility issues and to "click here" to get more help online. Well clicking the button did nothing. No website or additional information showed up. I'm very curious why WSUS isn't included as a role and what this incompatibility issue is. WSUS 3.0 runs just fine on Server 2012 Standard, and the role shows up along with other roles in server manager. My customers don't run Intune and WSUS serves it's purpose in deploying updates to local computers on the network with a single download repository. Why was this pulled from WSE 2012, it has value! Is there something I am missing here?
Okay, well it seems Direct Access is possible. Thanks to James for pointing that out in my post on the TechNet forum. social.technet.microsoft.com/.../f2164f12-20e9-4445-b04b-31a4d2d31097
Will Windows Server 2012 Essentials be released when other Server 2012 editions are released?
@Kevin - I'll echo Graham's comments; WSE is simply too expensive as a replacement for WHS - $425 is not "home" pricing. And I've not added RAID to my WHS 2011. Have you forgotten Charlie Kindel's "Why RAID is not a consumer technology" post? Those guiding principles are still valid. It's a pity that they were torn up for WHS 2011. They may be back with WSE, but not at a price that is acceptable to home users.
Typo on the download link. Says "... 25 uses and 50 devices...." Should be "... 25 useRs and 50 devices..." Note the "R". :-) May need to define what a device is.
Not sure if this will work on an HP Microserver as there is no display - does it support "headless" servers??
I am currently using WHS2011 and i would definitely upgrade to Server 2012 because i like the new features, but the price is actually to high for me. Do you plan to offer an "upgrade" licence (like you do for Windows 8) so that it is affordable for home usage?
Well said Geoff.
Raid is just not something I'm interested in anyway. Unless you REALLY REALLY need hardware level performance of Raid having the dependence on a specific piece of hardware, that you would have to match carefully to replace is a super bad idea.
And why on earth would a home user want to buy a RAID controller?? So I'm glad that Storage Spaces seems to fill this void, but very saddened that WSE is priced out of a range where I would consider buying it. In addition, I don't have much desire to have the server act as a DC, unless the maintenance required is about the same as WHS' workgroup operation.
By taking WHS off the market you've left a big void that there is no satisfactory product to use to fill. WHS 2011 with Storage Spaces would have been pretty kick ass, IMO. Its sad that it won't come to be.
How much of this decision is driven by MS wanting us to just shove everything in the cloud, as a consumer? I can understand that the market share for a home server may never be especially large due to cloud adoption, but for some of us, it just isn't really a good fit. Why force us to use linux?
Jeffrey, doing away with Small Business Server 2012 Standard is a huge mistake. Did I say huge mistake? I should have said a catastrophic mistake!!! All of my customers are on some form of SBS Server with Exchange integration on site with heavy Public folder use, so Exchange in the cloud will not work for them and with the economy at a standstill the thought of installing additional hardware with another server license, buying Exchange and its licensing requirements for those users is a very hard sale on a upgrade path for my clients that are ready to update their networks from SBS 2003 or SBS 2008 servers.
With no upgrade path for Small Business Server Standard, Microsoft appears to be trying very head to kill small business growth and the IT companies that service businesses using Small Business Server with Exchange on site.
Removing the Start Button and making Windows 8 on the desktop much harder to use I can handle but doing away with Small Business Server Standard with Exchange integration is totally unacceptable for me and my customers.