Category Archives: Features

SBS2012 is now Windows Server 2012 Essentials and it does not include Exchange

Great article from Susan Bradley with links to resources here –

Bottom line:

  • There is no SBS2012.
  • It is now called Windows Server 2012 Essentials or WS2012E for short.
  • It does not include Exchange.
  • Or Sharepoint, or SQL.

I’ve been blogging about the new features of WS2012E. It is a great fit for really small businesses, ie those up to 15 users. You really need to look at your IT strategy to work out what is the best way to work in your business (or your client’s business).

AND… It is not the end of the world that the SBS product is dead. There are other new and exciting alternatives. Watch this space.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials released to manufacturing

As the title says, the new version of Windows Server for small businesses was released to manufacturing today, which means that volume licensing customers will be able to download and use this version in the coming days. We will probably aslo see servers bundled with this OS by Christmas this year.

The announcement was made here –

I have blogged some of the higlights earlier, based on the beta release

Some minor changes have happened since, and will be address in some upcoming blog posts.

Data Deduplication in Windows Server 2012

There is a new and really handy feature in Windows Server 2012 called Data Deduplication. The feature is discussed in detail on the Technet page here –

Basically, Data Deduplication will find and remove duplication on the server without compromising data fidelity or integrity. This feature was used in the Essentials line of SBS 2011, Windows Home Server 2011, and Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, within the Client Backup feature. This feature allowed multiple backups of similar client PCs to be stored on the server with minimal disk storage footprint. Now, this feature is available for WS2012, and will provide a lot of benefits, particularly in optimising disk storage space and improving bandwidth across networks.

This feature is associated with the File and Storage Services Role, which is installed on all standard installs. Interestingly, this feature is not installed by default with the role, and must be enabled manually by running the Add Roles and Features wizard.

  1. From the Server Manager Dashboard, run the Add Roles and Features wizard.

  2. Click Next on the next 3 screens.

  3. Expand File and Storage Services and tick Data Deduplication, then click Next.

  4. Click Next on the next screen, then click Install on the confirmation screen. Note that you will not need to restart the server to install this feature.

  5. Close the wizard when the installation is complete.

Windows Server 2012 is released – Supports in place upgrade!

Don’t let the unassuming simple look and feel of the start up fool you. Windows Server 2012 is a robust, full featured server platform capable of powering the world’s largest datacentres and also small business single server organizations.

Read about the full specifications and the myriad of features from the Microsoft website here –

An interesting development in this version is the ability to perform an in place upgrade from a previous version. I tested this feature on my test server running Windows Server 2008 R2 with the HyperV role. The process took about half an hour with several server reboots. When it was done, I was presented with the server log in screen. I typed in the password, and was presented with the Windows Server 2012 version of my server. The management tool I had running on the server promptly checked in and announced that the server was online.

A minor detail was observed when all the virtual machines showed up on the system in a critical state and would not start up. This was easily remidied by removing the virtual machines from the HyperV Manager, and importing the virtual machines back. This is probably due to the fact that my virtual machine home folder was not as expected, and was relocated to a different area previously.

All up, it was a relatively painless process and it was a plesant surprise and bonus to see the in place upgrade feature available.

Windows 8 has arrived

In case you have not heard, Windows 8 has been released on MSDN and Technet. Volume License users will be able to download and deploy Windows 8 today. Expect a bunch of OEM vendors to release their offerings in the coming few weeks.

For all the information on Windows 8 feature set, visit the Release Preview site here – Or download the product guide here –

I have been using this OS for the past few months and it is a solid product. My wish is that third party vendors will get on the bandwagon and upgrade their applications sooner than later. For those using Windows XP, this is the time to update your 10 year old operating system.

Expect Windows Server 2012 to be released on MSDN and Technet in the next few days.




Growing beyond the 25 user limit in Server 2012 Essentials

Remember the word “Transmog“? Microsoft has release an official statement on how the process will work and the bits that are required for this to happen. The official title given to this transmogrification process is called “In-Place Transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard.”

In a nutshell:

  • Licensing. You need to purchase a copy of Server 2012 Standard AND the appropriate number of Client Access Licenses (CALs).
  • **After the process. there is NO 25 user limit NOR a 75 user limit.
  • There is a “supported” user and account limit of 75, which means that while the bits should work, Microsoft will not provide support for it if you exceed this limit.
  • You can turn off the Essentials bits, but it is a one-way ticket. You cannot turn the features back on.

The article can be read here –

**NOTE: Windows Server 2012 Essentials has a hard limit of of 25 users. After the in-place transition process, this limit is removed, because the server is transitioned to Windows Server 2012 Standard.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials – First Looks Part 2

In the previous post, we had a look at the start up screens for Windows Server 2012 Essentials. In this post, we’ll have a cursory view of the new Dashboard. It is similar to SBS 2011 Essentials, with some new additions and features.

The main dashboard screen shows a much improved Home screen with clear steps and links to various functions. The wizards actually work and bring up various wizard applets to configure the various functions.
 Two email options are available. These wizards will enable an administrator configure connectivity to Office 365 in the cloud, or to a local Exchange Server. The release documentation also points to the possibility of integrating the server to a Hosted Exchange service, although this is not yet available in the beta.
 A new service is also being trialled. Microsoft Online Backup Service ( is a cloud based storage service to provide file and folder backups from the server to Windows Azure Online Backup.
 The Quick Status screen provides a quick overview of the server configuration.
 The Help screen provides an online search function as well as links to the relevant resources.
 The Users tab has not changed much and is very similar to SBS 2011 Essentials. Administrators are now grouped separately to standard users.
 Computers and Backup in SBS 2011 Essentials is now called the Devices tab. A link to the Microsoft Online Backup Service is available here, as well as a link to the Best Practice Analyzer. It is also worth noting that Group Policy implementation is now built in to the server dashboard.
 Server Folders and Hard Drives in SBS 2011 Essentials has now been shortened to become the Storage tab. The Server Folders section provides options for managing shares on the server. The major improvement on the Hard Drives section pertains to the new Management of Storage Spaces (
 The Applications tab lists the various Add-ins which may be installed. A section called Microsoft Pinpoint provides access to the market place for Windows Server 2012 Essentials and helps administrators find useful Add-ins for the server.
 In the server Settings section, general server configurations can be changed.
 The Media settings section allows administrators to configure the server as a Media server, which was a popular feature of Windows Home Server.
 The Anywhere Access section allows administrators to configure Remote Web Access functionality and set up a personalized Microsoft domain name for external access to the server.
 Finally, the Alert Viewer provides a list of informational messages, Warnings, and Critical notifications regarding the server and connected devices.

The beta is now available on MSDN, and is also be available as a public download here –


Windows Server 2012 Essentials – First Looks Part 1

Here is a brief look at the new Windows Server 2012 Essentials Release Candidate. Note that while this is a Release Candidate version, some items may change before the final release. The server is running as a virtual machine in Windows Server 2012 RC on an ASUS laptop.

The boot up proess is similar to Windows Server 2012, as it is based on the same underlying operating system.

The login prompts are also similar to Windows Server 2012, and have the Metro interface.

After pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL
The initial Start experience is Metro with icons to common Server administrative tools. The Dashboad app is conspicously missing from this view, and hopefully it will be added in the final release.
Dropping down to the desktop reveals that missing Dashboard shortcut. Functionality is the same as with Windows Server 2012.
Opening the Dashboard reveals a new look Metro interface with similar functionality to Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.

We’ll have a look at the new Dashboard in the next post. Stay tuned.


Let’s learn a new word for Windows Server 2012 Essentials – Transmog

There is a word that will crop up more, now that Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been announced. This word is Transmog. What does it mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Transmogrify (verb) as “to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect.” The Oxford dictionary defines this word as “transform in a surprising or magical manner.”

This word may also crop up in various incorrectly spelt forms like Transmorg or Transmorgify.

The gist of this word when applied to Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the process of transitioning Server 2012 Essentials into Server 2012 Standard, and move past the 25 user limit. In a sense, this is the old Transition Pack for SBS 2003 ( revived. Using the Tranmog process, a customer will be able to perform an in place upgrade of their Server 2012 Essentials into Server 2012 Standard, thus bypassing the 25 user limitation. The majority of Server 2012 Essentials function like Remote Web Access and Client Backups will continue to operate and be fully supported up to 75 users and 75 devices. Mind you, the transmogrification process will allow more than 75 users and devices, but support for the Essentials components will not be available on larger numbers of clients and devices.

While this feature/process has been announced, there is no pricing announced. One would imagine that the cost would be roughly the same or more than the cost to move from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard with 25 CALs. For more information on how do perform this process, see this post –