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 –


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