Microsoft Unveils Windows Small Business Server Previews

Microsoft on Monday announced two new "previews" to come for its Windows Small Business Server (SBS) product suite.

The previews, which aren't yet publicly available, are code-named "SBS 7" and "SBS Aurora." The announcements, which will likely interest Microsoft partners serving the IT needs of smaller organizations, were made at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, happening this week in Washington, D.C.

The preview releases will be public reviews, and those interested in downloading and testing them can sign up to participate at Microsoft's SBS portal page here. Microsoft will notify those who sign up when the preview software can be downloaded, but availability is estimated by summer's end, according to a Microsoft blog.

SBS 7 is designed to support 75 users max, so there's no real change in capacity from SBS 2008, the currently available all 64-bit product that rolled out in November 2008. However, Microsoft is planning to upgrade all of the components in SBS 7 to reflect its current product stack of server technologies. SBS 7 will include "Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange Server 2010 SP1, SharePoint 2010 Foundation, Windows Server Update Services 3.0 and SQL Server 2008 R2," according to the blog. SBS 7 will support employees with "file-and-print, email and Internet services," plus Microsoft is adding management and security improvements.

SBS Aurora, on the other hand, will support 25 users max, enabling remote data access. Microsoft is describing it as a "first server" option for small businesses. What's more, SBS Aurora is described as "the company's first [server suite] to deliver both traditional and cloud capabilities," according to the blog. Apparently, what that means is that SBS Aurora will be available for on premises installs or accessed as a service, or it will provide access to services (it's not really clear from Microsoft's blog post). SBS Aurora also will feature automatic backup and restore capabilities and will enable file and print sharing.

The blog describes "a lot of partner interest" in SBS Aurora, citing integration plans by Disk Keeper, HP, Level Platforms and Symantec. Microsoft plans to release a "Windows Server Solution Software Development Kit" that will enable developers to "build add-ins and write drive integration of new and existing on-line services with SBS Aurora," according to the blog. The blog points to this Microsoft Connect portal page for the SDK, but at press time that page only described a beta sign up for SBS 7 and SBS Aurora.

For those organizations supporting 10 users max, Microsoft rolled out a beta in April of Windows Home Server code-named "Vail," which is aimed at consumers but also small business users. Unlike SBS Aurora, the Windows Home Server Vail beta currently lacks printer support and doesn't have terminal server support for remote access.

Windows SBS used to be part of a two-part offering with Windows Essential Business Server (EBS). However, in April, Microsoft killed off EBS, which was designed to support midsize organizations of 75 to 300 users. On June 30, Microsoft ended the availability and development of the EBS product.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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