Windows Server 2012 Essentials Public Beta

LogoIf you are interested there is now a public beta of ‘SBS8’ or Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

I am certainly not the best person to ask for a reasoned business argument about why the loss of SBS Standard is good or bad thing.

I went through the same emotions a lot of you will have gone through this last week, when the MVPs were told about the future for the product,  and i do understand the emotional response, however odd when you take a step back and think we are getting emotional about an Operating System.

We are all disappointed to see the end of Small Business Server Standard, whatever the reasoning for it.

Our job is to now make the best of what’s left, what’s new, and what’s a little different.

So, i am going to try and keep the sarcasm to a minimum, and concentrate on doing what i do, or have done so far, which is try and help people get the most out of ‘Essentials’ (or in some cases, get anything out of it) and leave the business discussions for those of you who know what you are talking about.

With all of the above said, i think that messaging on this from Microsoft has so far been lousy, leading to a lot of negativity in the market, especially when you add in the recent loss of the SBSC.

All of which, i feel, could have been avoided with a different strategy for releasing this info. But i am not a marketing guru, nor do i know why things were done the way they were done.

Back to the beta…

I would encourage you try it out, if only on a VM, I have been running it for a while and it is quite light, runs perfectly well with 4gb of ram albeit with zero workload. The current build is almost identical to SBS Essentials, with the improvements noted below in my amazing table.

I will be posting some more articles soon going through the process to install WSE, and also the process of getting an OnPrem Exchange installed and running.

Let’s look at some interesting features of WSE.


WSE will integrate quite nicely with an On Premises Exchange Server, should you be able to afford to buy it.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but at this time it is expected there will be no pricing concession on purchasing WSE & Exchange together.

So think, Windows OS, Exchange Server License & Exchange CALs. On the plus side, due to a nice feature of IIS, it will all work using 1 public IP Address, however you will need two separate FQDNs & SSL Certificates.

Some good news about the new VM rights on Server Standard mean this could work out at a similar price to the normal SBS deployment you are used to working with.

WSE will be a Domain Controller, like previous versions of SBS it will be the forest root, you will only be allowed one WSE per Domain, and you will not be allowed Domain Trusts. There is no option to run WSE without Active Directory.

The Remote Web Access Wizard, still has the same failings, however we are promised this is being worked on and will be a lot better in the next build.

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements is the addition, in the beta at least, of Direct Access.

There will be a migration path to WSE from previous versions of SBS, for those of you who want it.

Unlike SBS Essentials, there will also now be a supported transition path off of WSE onto the full server SKU, whilst retaining some features unique to WSE, such as client backup. Think back to the days of the SBS 2003 transition pack, remember how much fun that was right?

Some details of this transition, or transmog, have appeared, but i have not heard anything concrete yet so will save that for another day.

The SBS8/WSE Beta forum will be located under Windows Server Forum:

The SBS8/WSE Beta Connect site will be here:

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

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