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
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Finally legal to rip music from CDs - just don't break DRM
- Hot hardware video: Google Glass
- Microsoft to launch two new Windows Phones
- Amazon reveals why ebooks should cost less than $10
- Self-driving cars will be on UK roads in six months
- Lords: right to be forgotten is "unworkable"
- Apple slashes £100 off updated MacBook Pros with Retina
- Windows Phone gets first wearables app from Fitbit
- Motorola working on a Nexus 6 phablet
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- 13 computers that changed the world
- How to download YouTube videos to a PC or laptop: is it legal to download YouTube videos?
- Dropbox vs OneDrive vs Google Drive: what's the best cloud storage service of 2014?
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- 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?