Microsoft Unveils Four Editions of Windows Server 2012, Discontinues Windows Home Server

Microsoft officially announced the various flavors of its upcoming server platform, Windows Server 2012. We’ve seen earlier, during the announcement of Windows 8 flavors, that Microsoft is simplifying their product lineup, to offer increased transparency. The same scenario prevails when the Redmond software giant announced its server platform Windows Server 2012 versions.

There will be four such versions coming to the market, namely , the first of which will be available for OEMs alone.

Windows Server 2012 will be available in four versions, namely, Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. Out of these four versions, the first version will only be available for OEMs. But, there’s sad news for small office and home users. In the process of simplifying the product lineup, Microsoft has decided to discontinue their popular server platform, Windows Home Server.

At $99 a copy, Windows Home Server (WHS) platform is an economical choice for most SOHO users. In fact, many people are surprised by Microsoft’s decision to discontinue a popular and economical product. Now, if a SOHO user decides to build a simple home server, they’ve to shell out $425 for Windows Server 2012 Essentials version. According to Microsoft, the Windows Server 2012 Essentials SKU comes with a limitation of only 26 users and is mainly targeted towards small/mid-size businesses.

Windows Server 2012 Editions

As seen in the table above, the Foundation SKU of Windows Server 2012 has a limitation of 15 user accounts and is available only for OEMs. Foundation SKU is an economical general purpose server with no virtualization rights.

The next higher Windows Server 2012 version is the Essentials version. It has limit of 25 user accounts, comes with a simpler interface, pre-configured connectivity to cloud, and no virtualization rights. Essential SKU is set at $425 Open No Level (NL) ERP.

The Standard SKU is the next higher version which offers full Windows Server functionality with two virtual instances. It is great for low density or non-virtualized environments, featuring a price tag of $882 Open No Level (NL) ERP.

The ultimate edition of Windows Server 2012 that any business can go for is the Datacenter SKU. The Datacenter flavor comes with full Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances. Destined for highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments. The Open No Level (NL) ERP of Datacenter SKU is set to $4,809.

Actually, if a business wants to go for full Windows Server functionality, they’ve the option to either go for the Standard or the Datacenter edition. All features that are available in the Datacenter edition are also available in the Standard edition, including high availability features like failover clustering.

The only difference between the two editions will be virtualization rights. A Standard edition license will entitle you to run up to two VMs on up to two processors (subject to the VM use rights outlined in the Product Use Rights document). A Datacenter edition license will entitle you to run an unlimited number of VMs on up to two processors.

Microsoft notes, “Windows Server 2012 delivers a dramatically simplified licensing experience. Shaped by feedback from customers and partners, the new Windows Server licensing approach will help make choosing the right Windows Server easier while delivering the following benefits. It’s easier than ever to determine the right Windows Server edition for you. Choose from just four editions of Windows Server 2012, based on the size of your organization and your requirements for virtualization and cloud computing.”

Download Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate

Windows Server 2012 RC download is available in the form of 64-bit ISO and VHD variants. Windows Server 2012 RC 64-bit ISO has support for multiple languages. Language support includes Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. The VHD version is only available in English language.

The RC version is a pre-release software. It should not be used in production environment and should be only used for testing.

You can download the official Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate through TechNet or MSDN. You can download the step-by-step guide from here.

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