Windows Server 2012 Editions Revealed
Microsoft on Thursday revealed that Windows Server 2012, currently available as a release candidate, will have four only editions: Datacenter, Standard, Essentials and Foundation.
The new lineup eliminates the Enterprise, HPC and Web Server editions. In a FAQ, Microsoft said the Standard edition will include all of the features of the Enterprise edition. Additionally, users of the HPC edition will still be able to run HPC workloads via the new HPC Pack 2012, which Microsoft is making available as a free download here.
Regarding why it is retiring the Web Server edition, Microsoft's FAQ explained, "The Web Server product was designed primarily for end customers and service providers that wanted to host web sites. However, consistent feedback from these customers and partners has been that they prefer to use an edition of Windows Server that does not restrict usage to running web workloads."
Notably, Microsoft is also discontinuing Windows Small Business Server (SBS) and Windows Home Server (WHS) with the forthcoming Windows Server 2012.
"Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, which includes Exchange Server and Windows server component products, will be the final such Windows Server offering," the FAQ said. Microsoft cited the growing trend among small businesses of adopting cloud computing solutions for e-mail, backup and other services as the reason for shuttering SBS.
To address that cloud gap, Microsoft is touting the new Essentials edition as the "the latest version" of SBS. Windows Server 2012 Essentials has a 25-user limit and will cost $425.
"Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been designed to allow customers the flexibility to choose which applications and services run on-premises and which run in the cloud," Microsoft explained in this datasheet. "With Windows Server 2012 Essentials, customers can take advantage of the same type of integrated management experience whether they choose to run an on-premises copy of Exchange Server, subscribe to a hosted Exchange service, or subscribe to Office 365."
As for WHS, Microsoft is also folding that product's features into Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
"Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use," the datasheet said.
The following chart from Microsoft's licensing datasheet gives an overview of the licensing and feature differences of each of the four Windows Server 2012 editions.