Microsoft confirms Windows Home Server is dead

HP Home Server

Simplified Windows Server lineup focuses on virtualisation and the cloud

Microsoft has killed off Windows Home Server and Small Business Server.

Microsoft had been expected to shelve Windows Home Server since the end of 2010, when it removed a key feature called Drive Extender, a drive pooling system. The Windows Home Server package led a troubled life from the outset, arriving with a data corruption bug that Microsoft took months to fix, and a lack of support from hardware vendors.

In its FAQ on the changes, Microsoft confirmed the demise of Home Server, suggesting fans move to a new SKU called Essentials. "Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community," Microsoft said.

"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 — offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers."

Indeed, Microsoft also suggested Windows Small Business Server would be replaced by Windows Server 2012 Essentials, saying it was based "on the design philosophy" of its predecessor, and brings the branding into line with the other products.

However, Essentials doesn't allow virtualisation and doesn't include Exchange Server or SharePoint Foundation - those on the Software Assurance programme with Windows Small Business Server will instead be upgraded to Windows Server Standard.

Small Business Server 2011 will remain available via OEMs until December 2013, while Home Server will be available as an OEM embedded product until the end of 2025.

Microsoft added that it had "simplified" its Windows Server lineup, with changes for the 2012 packages reflecting customers' move to the cloud.

The new SKUs on offer are:

- Datacentre, with unlimited virtualisation instances for $4,809 per processor;

- Standard, allowing two virtual instances for $882 per processor;

- Essentials, an SMB option with no virtualisation but cloud support for $425 per server with up to 25 user accounts;

- Foundation, a general purpose system with no virtualisation, available to OEMs only.

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