Windows Server 2012 Essentials – The New Windows Home Server?

This week, Microsoft pretty much announced the end of Windows Home Server as we know it after two versions. The first being the original Windows Home Server followed up by Windows Home Server 2011 based upon Windows Server 2008 R2. With the onset of Windows Server 2012 and its various flavours I can only think Microsoft was in the mood to put things out to pasture that weren’t part of the immediate strategy for Windows.

Anyway, Windows Server 2012 Essentials looks like it does carry on from where Windows Home Server left off with automated backups still being a primary feature. Plus, there is a return of a new and improved storage pooling solution in the form of Storage Spaces to fill the void created by the departure of Drive Extender in Windows Home Server 2011. It also appears that setting up things like a VPN on Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been made easier through the use of a simple wizard and the all familiar dashboard will still be part of the ongoing management experience.

However, there might be a couple of “gotchas”, specifically:

  1. the price, at US$425 it is significantly more expensive than Windows Home Server 2011 which could be found for US$100 or less – potentially a major turn off for the enthusiasts of the dead end Windows Home Server platform.
  2. the requirement to deploy a domain using Active Directory – something that non-technical people may not necessarily want, need or possess the knowledge to maintain (even if there is a nice dashboard with which to manage accounts). This could also potentially clash with the Microsoft accounts (i.e. a Hotmail or Windows Live e-mail address) that can be used for login on Windows 8 computers.

At any rate, I am going to try this out in a VM and see how it performs (particular as it also uses the Metro Start Screen found in Windows 8) and maybe see how Windows 8 works alongside it in another VM until I can decide if this is the way I want to go with our instance of Windows Home Server 2011. That said, Windows Home Server has been pretty good while it lasted.

Vale Vail.

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