Windows Server 2012 Essentials review
Ever since the days of Windows NT, Small Business Server (SBS) provided Windows Server and some key applications, including Exchange, at an affordable price for small businesses – and with user-friendly management tools, too. There’s no SBS2012, but Microsoft is offering WS2012 Essentials as a possible replacement.
The big change is that Essentials doesn’t include Exchange. Instead, it integrates with Office 365, which offers hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Lync communications.
Essentials 2012 doesn’t require any CALs, but it’s limited to two physical processors and up to 25 users, where SBS2011 Standard supported up to 75 users with CALs.
Essentials can be run in a VM, but can’t be a Hyper-V host. Active Directory is included, though, with the option of synchronisation with Office 365 users.
The Essentials dashboard offers simplified tools for such things as managing users, backing up client computers, backing up server data to a cloud-hosted service and installing add-ins. You can configure Anywhere Access, using DirectAccess technology for remote access to server resources.
On the plus side, Essentials offers small businesses most of the benefits of WS2012 without the hassle and expense of CALs. Presuming you need a server, and use Office 365 or another hosted email service, it’s cost-effective.
Nevertheless, it falls short of the comprehensive package that formed the old SBS. The two things that hurt are the absence of Exchange and the limitation of 25 users. Microsoft points out that you can run Exchange on an additional server if required, but the cost of an additional Windows server and Exchange with the attendant CALs for both will be substantial.
Another disappointing aspect about WS2012 is that Active Directory synchronises with only Office 365, rather than using the more powerful Active Directory Federation Services. Microsoft says this is because the low-end P editions of Office 365 don’t support it. Many businesses that are using SBS2011 and earlier will want to stick with what they have.
Author: Tim Anderson
- Universal wireless charging gets a boost from Microsoft
- Amazon Phone: release date, features and 3D display
- Apple offers sneak peak at OS X via Beta Seed
- American grip on web loosens ahead of key net meeting
- Apple fixes security flaw, fingerprint scanner with iOS 7.1.1
- Heartbleed: LibreSSL scrubs "irresponsible" OpenSSL code
- Windows Cloud: should Microsoft mimic Chrome OS?
- Lytro unveils its next light-field camera: the $1,599 Illum
- Microsoft supercharges PowerPoint with Office Mix
- Intel to boost Thunderbolt to 40Gbits/sec
- Hello Cortana, it's nice to meet you
- Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender
- The insane economics of Sky Now TV
- No such thing as a free app... so pay up if you want quality
- Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers
- Windows Phone 8.1 video: hands-on
- Office for iPad: key information
- Why every PC buyer owes Richard Durkin a debt of gratitude
- HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: 2014's big-hitters compared
- Windows XP end of life: key information
- How to upgrade from Windows XP to Ubuntu
- The great iPhone ripoff and how it works
- Heartbleed: what you need to know and do
- Data recovery: inside the clean room
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2014
- How much RAM do you really need?
- News of the weird: the strangest ever tech stories
- Five hyped technologies: disruptive or not?
- Piracy's dying: why we're all going straight
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?
- The best Android antivirus apps for 2014
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word