Windows Server Essentials (formerly Windows Small Business Server or SBS) is an integrated server suite from Microsoft designed for running network infrastructure (both intranet management and Internet access) of small and midsize businesses having no more than 25 users or 50 devices. Application server technologies are tightly integrated to provide, e.g., the Remote Web Workplace, and offer management benefits such as integrated setup, enhanced monitoring, a unified management console, and remote access.
Since the release of SBS 2003, the same service packs as those for Windows Server or other server products can be used to update the OS.
The version of Windows Server that is part of Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008, known as Windows Server 2008 for Windows Essential Server Solutions (WinWESS) (also known as Windows Server 2008 Standard FE) is available outside the product suite, supporting a maximum of 15 Client Access Licenses.
Windows Small Business Server has its own type of Client Access License (CAL), that is different and costs slightly more than CALs for the usual editions of the Windows Server operating system. However, the SBS CAL encompasses the user CALs for Windows Server, Exchange Server and SQL Server, and hence is less expensive than buying all the other CALs individually.
Windows Small Business Server has the following design restrictions:
Only one computer in the domain can be running Windows Small Business Server. That is not to say that the domain only supports a single server. The domain supports multiple servers (including additional domain controllers) running any other operating system, such as Windows Server Standard Edition.
Windows Small Business Server cannot trust any other domains. It cannot have any child domains.
Windows Small Business Server is limited to 75 users or devices depending on which type of CAL (SBS 2008 FE supports a maximum of 15 CALs).
All Windows Small Business Server versions up to SBS 2003 are limited to 4 GB of RAM. 2008 requires a minimum of 4GB for installation, it needs more for performance. 2008 supports a maximum of 32GB.
Windows Small Business Server versions prior to Windows Small Business Server 2008 are only available for the x86 (32-bit) architecture.
Windows Small Business Server 2008 is only available for the x86-64 (64-bit) architecture. This is due to the requirements of Exchange Server 2007, whose production version is 64-bit only. The 32-bit version of Exchange Server 2007 is only supported for testing and non-production scenarios.
The SQL Server which comes with SBS 2008 is "SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition for Small Business.". It cannot be installed outside of a network that has a domain controller, and must have fewer than 75 PCs and/or users.
Only the Remote Desktop for Administration mode is available because Small Business Server always runs on the domain controller, and only two simultaneous RDP sessions are allowed. (Change from SBS 2000 policy) Terminal Services in application sharing mode needs to be run on a second server on the network. This however is possible with SBS 2011 Premium add-on which includes a Windows Server 2008 license for running the second server.
To remove these restrictions and upgrade to regular editions of Windows Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server and ISA Server, there is a Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Transition Pack.
Shared Modem Service (Modem server, not supported in Small Business Server 2003 and later)
October 22, 1997 – BackOffice Small Business Server 4.0
Consists of Windows NT Server 4.0 and includes Exchange Server 5.0 SP1, Internet Information Services 3.0, SQL Server 6.5 SP3, Proxy Server 1.0, Internet Explorer 3.02 or 4.01, and Outlook 97; allows 25 client licenses.
May 24, 1999 – BackOffice Small Business Server 4.5
Consists of Windows NT Server 4.0 SP4 and includes Exchange Server 5.5 SP2, IIS 4.0, SQL Server 7.0, Proxy Server 2.0, Internet Explorer 5.0, Outlook 2000, and FrontPage 2000; allows 50 client licenses.
February 21, 2001 – Microsoft Small Business Server 2000
Consists of Windows 2000 Server (including Internet Explorer 5.0 and IIS 5.0) and includes Exchange 2000 Server, SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition, Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2000, Outlook 2000 and FrontPage 2000; allows 50 client licenses.
October 9, 2003 – Windows Small Business Server 2003 (codenamed Bobcat)
August 21, 2008 – Windows Small Business Server 2008 (codenamed Cougar)
Consists of Windows Server 2008 and includes Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and 120-day trial subscriptions of new security products from Microsoft, namely, Forefront Security for Exchange and Windows Live OneCare for Server. The standard edition of SBS 2008 will be a single server product for small businesses. The premium edition will contain a license for Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition, with the option to run SQL Server on either the main SBS server, or a second server. The premium edition will therefore be targeted at dual-server scenarios such as terminal services application sharing, line of business applications, edge security, secondary domain controllers, and virtualization. In addition to features present in previous versions, new features include:
A streamlined administration and management console that is designed around tasks to be accomplished rather than underlying technologies
Built-in support for registering and configuring domain name and DNS records via multiple registrars
Monitoring reports that gather data from both servers and clients on the network, including Security Center status (anti-virus, spyware, and client firewall) from all the clients
New features in the Remote Web Workplace, such as the ability to define default and allowed PCs for each user
New server backup features, based on the incremental block-based backup technology in Windows Server 2008 (tape backup no longer supported via native tools, but continues to be supported via third parties)
SBS 2008 requires installation behind a separate network firewall device. In contrast with SBS 2003, it does not support being installed directly on the edge of the network, ISA Server is no longer bundled and a dual-NIC configuration is not possible.
Migration of 32-bit SBS 2003 versions to 64-bit SBS 2008 and SBS2011 has no in place upgrade and can be problematic. Inability to upgrade Sharepoint (WSS 2.0) by WSS 3.0 or SharePoint 2010 Foundation.
SBS 2008 was released to manufacturing on August 21, 2008 and was launched on November 12, 2008. Windows Small Business Server 2008 supports organizations with up to 75 users or devices. A notable change from SBS 2003 is that CALs are not enforced electronically.
December 13, 2010 – Windows Small Business Server 2011
Microsoft announced two successors to the SBS series during WPC 2010, both based on Windows Server 2008 R2. One successor (code name "Aurora") supports a maximum of 25 users, removes the traditional on-premises components of Exchange, SharePoint and WSUS, and is oriented to attach cloud services. The other successor (code name "SBS 7") is the more direct successor of SBS 2008, and continues to support a maximum of 75 users, and will continue to include the next generation on-premises versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Windows Server Update Services.
Late in 2010, Microsoft announced the official branding for the 2011 wave. SBS "7" will be branded as Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, and "Aurora" will introduce a new edition to the SBS product line: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. Additionally, changes to the premium edition were announced. Whereas formerly, the premium edition of SBS was packaged as a superset of the standard edition, in the 2011 wave it will be available as an add-on edition, containing standalone copies of SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and available to add onto either SBS 2011 Essentials or Standard.
In mid-December, Microsoft released Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard to TechNet/MSDN Subscribers for evaluation. Microsoft has also announced that Windows SBS 2011 Standard will be available to Volume Licensing in early January and as a trial in mid-January. SBS 2011 requires an Internet connection.
October 10, 2012 – Windows Server 2012 Essentials
In July of 2012, it was announced that there will not be another Windows Small Business Server product after SBS 2011. SBS 2011 Essentials will be succeeded by Windows Server 2012 Essentials. One of the primary differences between Windows Server 2012 Essentials and previous versions of Small Business Server is that Windows Server 2012 Essentials does not include Microsoft Exchange which is used for messaging and collaboration, including the ability to host email.
September 9, 2013 – Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is the latest version of Windows Server Essentials designed for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials can also be used as the primary server in a multi-server environment for small businesses.
^"Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Windows Server Essentials portal. Microsoft. 5 October 2012. p. 1. Retrieved 11 July 2013. Q: Why did Microsoft change the name of Windows Small Business Server Essentials to Windows Server Essentials? A: [...]
^"Windows Small Business Server 2008 Technical FAQ". Microsoft Technet. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved June 9, 2010. Windows Server 2008 Standard FE is the shortened name for Windows Server 2008 for Windows Essential Server Solutions. When you run the Winver tool you will see this reference.