Windows Server 2012 Essentials released to manufacturing, available for evaluation today!

Windows Server 2012 Essentials released to manufacturing, available for evaluation today!

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Windows Server has an awesome dynamic range.  It runs everything from the largest internet sites to the smallest businesses.  With all of the discussion about being a CloudOS, you might wonder whether this represents a change.  The answer is a definitive ‘no’.  We believe that the cloud offers dramatic advantages to everyone.  In today’s post, Sinead O’Donovan announces the RTM of Windows Server 2012 Essentials and discusses some of the many great new features including its ability to bring the advantages of the cloud to small businesses.

--Cheers! Jeffrey


Hi, I’m Sinead O'Donovan, Director of Program Management on the Windows Server Essentials team.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a significant milestone in our efforts to help cloud-enable small businesses and home offices. It is designed to help you protect business data, to allow highly secure access to the information you need from virtually anywhere by using almost any device, and to offer the flexibility to choose which applications and services you want to run on-premises and in the cloud—we have even made it easier than ever before to run Essentials itself in a hosted environment. Excitement about the release of Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been growing. In 8 weeks of public previews, we’ve had more than 23,000 downloads—far surpassing pre-release downloads of past versions.

Today I am pleased to tell you that Windows Server 2012 Essentials has reached the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone. We are delivering the product to our hardware and ecosystem partners, and it will be generally available in all channels on November 1, with OEM partners shipping server systems by the end of the year.

I would like to encourage you to try Windows Server 2012 Essentials for yourself by visiting the Evaluation Center today to download a trial copy—and if you’re an MSDN or TechNet subscriber, you can download Essentials from those sites as well.

Let me share some quick product highlights with you:

  • Enable a dynamic, modern work style with access from your devices by using Remote Web Access (RWA), and take advantage of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices for a superior experience with rich modern “My Server” apps.
  • Enjoy peace of mind knowing that your data is well-protected by complementing your on-site backups with Windows Azure Online Backup, as well as utilizing integrated support for the new Windows 8 File History feature.
  • Choose the email and collaboration option that’s right for you, whether that’s in the cloud with Office 365 or a hosted service provider, or running on a local server.
  • Quickly and easily respond to increasing data capacity needs with support for Storage Spaces, which allows you to create elastic, resilient storage for your files and folders.
  • Run the line-of-business applications that you depend on by leveraging our greatly improved application compatibility, now with a single logo certification for all Windows Server 2012 editions.
  • Purchase with confidence knowing that your technology investment can easily grow to Windows Server 2012 Standard if the needs of your business grow.
  • Deploy today with full support for 19 languages, all releasing simultaneously.

We have seen some great initial press reviews of Windows Server 2012 Essentials, too. For example:

The right tool for the job… Server Essentials makes client backups so simple that not doing them borders on criminal. Combined with the Microsoft Online Backup service [Windows Azure Online Backup] (and possibly with replication based on Hyper-V), the backup features make for a much more disaster-resistant small network. And the integration with Office 365 and Exchange (but mostly with Office 365) greatly reduces the complexity of user administration.”
             -Ars Technica, A server for the rest of us: hands-on with Windows Server 2012 Essentials

“…ideal for a small business or a home office.”
             -ZDNet, Windows Server 2012 Essentials: Beta preview

You can find more information on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials product page, and discover deeper technical information on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials TechCenter. If you are a Microsoft Partner, be sure to visit the Microsoft Partner Network and take advantage of the training opportunities we have available, including the upcoming Disti Bootcamps. And, of course, we would like to continue the great dialog we’ve started with you during the previews, so please continue to share your experiences and provide us with your feedback in the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Forum.

Thank you,
Sinead O'Donovan

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  • What price point ? it needs to have a "consumer" version to replace WHS, priced reasonably.

  • @GregT, pricing information is available in the Windows Server 2012 Licensing datasheet,, and additional information is available on

  • Are there any plans to make it available as one of the default virtual machine images on azure?

    I know of a few small businesses that have no central office with employees working from home and having a server to access shared apps and documents they'd fine useful, but preparing an image and uploading is not that easy for the non-technical.

  • I am unable to find MyServer app for Windows 8 yet in the app store and as well as web service API documentation on MSDN.

    When are those going to come out?

  • To Michael below.........Uhhh, read above, "we have even made it easier than ever before to run Essentials itself in a hosted environment."  And exactly what hosted environment would that be, Mr. Azure?

  • the fact that you can't run it as a VM in hyper-v ... makes it an outdated system, even before the release.  Everything must run virtual for us now.

  • @Clark, Umm, Not sure where you read that you can run Windows Server 2012 Essentials in a VM, but would love to know where because they were wrong. This product is a Windows Server SKU. So, one of the top suggestions for replicating the On Premise configuration of SBS 2011 is to stand up a Windows Server 2012 Standard and then install Essentials into one VM and then stand up another VM and run Exchange Server in that VM. Granted, at this time, Exchange 2010 has to be run in a VM running Windows Server 2008 R2. Hope this clears it up for you.

    Kevin Beares

    Senior Community Lead

    Windows Server and System Center Group

  • @ James McCormick - The My Server app for Windows 8 is currently not available in the Windows 8 store yet.  We're working on the finishing touches of the app and it will be available soon.  Please stay tuned as we get closer to general availability of Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

  • FYI to Clark it can't HOST vms but it certainly can RUN as a virtual machine.

  • Does anyone actually know when the official release date for WS2012 Essentials is?

    There is that many dates being thrown around both on TechNet and other sites that have now since past and still no actual release other than a 180 day trial. The last date on an Official Blog from the build team stated the 1st November, 2012. It is now 20th November, 2012 and still no release and is not even available from HP/Dell/IBM etc as an RTM version with their server packages.