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Oct 10, 2012
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If You Serve Me Up

It’s hard to get the Rolling Stones to sing “Start Me Up” for Microsoft once the start button has been removed from Windows 8. This month’s launch will certainly be a far cry from the fanfare and glamour of 1995. Yet for solution providers, it’s almost time to ‘stop worrying and love the bomb’.

Microsoft released its follow-on to Small Business Server/Home Server today. Look for this software to start appearing on retail servers in the next month. OEM price is expected to be under $400. This is a jump for business Home Server users or any startup on a tight budget. It is less than the full Small Business Server but with far fewer features like Exchange. It is a straight across replacement for SBS Essentials. If you use XP or Vista you will have to stay with earlier products – 2012 only supports Windows 7 or 8. Mac Leopard 10.5 or above is supported. It combines a little bit of all the previous server variations without a mail server.

One can make the argument that operating systems are less and less relevant in modern computing, especially with servers – users mainly care about whether their applications work, whether they can find their data, and whether their computing experience has changed radically from one version to the next.

Server 2012 Essentials may be a bright spot in an otherwise dim product cycle. Advance reviews point toward an underwhelming response to Windows 8; this may be a pushback against a poorly considered user interface, though developers have their own reasons to rage against the dying of Windows 7. If anything, a lackluster economy and poor advance reviews may counter Microsoft’s assertions that Windows 8 will be the biggest launch ever.I will continue to recommend Home Server and Small Business Server as long as they remain available through retail channels. Each has a well-established base of business and home users. Most businesses do not crave the bleeding edge. Authors like Paul Thurrott make their living advocating for the latest, whether or not it is the greatest, but it may not be your necessity.Bottom line assessment: Small Business Server 2011 users have a mature and robust product with service packs and standard support to continue for most of the next decade. Home Server business users and enthusiasts like their product for ease of use and price point. SBS 2011 Essentials users have little to gain from upgrading, but if you were considering buying that product, then this would be a new choice. I’ve tested Server 2012 Essentials and will support it. That doesn’t mean I have to endorse every poor decision that company management has made in the last year, though.
This article is in response to Paul Thurrott’s piece here:
I’ve been reading his pieces for years and would like to acknowledge his contributions to the Windows enthusiast community. I may not always be as ardently enthusiastic about Microsoft’s offerings, but in all things balance. Without some enthusiasm the entire Windows franchise would be dead in the water.
Jul 10, 2012
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8 On the Stick

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is often used as a venue for product and concept releases. This year’s offering is Windows 8 as a portable operating system that can run on removable media, specifically a 32GB flash drive. All programs and files are saved as a portable virtual operating system. This will further drive the use of virtual machines into the hands of business and end users.

Techeye has a good take on what this could mean for the future.

Jul 10, 2012
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Facebook Purity Extension

Facebook Purity – Plugin for Your Browser

This small extension allows a much finer control over how you view and interact with Facebook.

Jul 10, 2012
Comments Off on Small Business Server and the Golden Goose

Small Business Server and the Golden Goose

Originally Published at

Microsoft and The Golden Goose

Microsoft stopped development on some core products this week while consolidating the new Server 2012 lineup into four offerings. Home Server development is over, and Small Business Server development is ending. Support teams are facing consolidation and realignment as a major product group disappears from the Redmond landscape.

The context is the announcement a week ago of a $6.2 billion write-off of losses Microsoft accrued from buying aQuantive. The announcement of the server group cuts came not long after. This may be mere coincidence.

Back Office

The concept of a unified platform to consolidate most functions of a business or a home into a single software package has been at the core of Microsoft’s mission since the early days, with significant marketing targeted to smaller businesses. Many products flopped, but some like SBS were successful because of their usefulness. Home server was popular with enthusiasts and businesses groups under 10. Although not without shortcomings, the software has been adopted by a large community of professionals who have extended the value of the platforms.

This move has already produced strong reactions by partners and vendors. The SBS community has to date attracted a ‘best and brightest’ group of professionals who support small business, and it remains to be seen how their mission will weather consolidation into the new landscape. The underlying message seems to be another prompt to move to the cloud and forget about local Exchange and Sharepoint, even though the hosted versions are less capable. One can buy components, but they are no longer marketed together for small business. And if you want to amass your own music and video collection, choose another vendor, as home server is no longer part of the company mission, but a relic of the ‘pre-cloud’ world.

The New LookIt remains to be seen how Server 2012 Essentials and Foundation will fill the market. Microsoft is set to flood the market with $20 and $40 Windows 8 licenses, so there’s every reason to think they’ll roll out another incentive to upgrade to Server 2012 Foundation, Essentials or Standard as gateways to the new Metro-polis. Their goal is to keep moving everyone forward out of the very functional Windows 7 codebase, which may not be an easy task. Demand for servers will likely reflect the acceptance of Windows 8 in general.

Small Business ServerAs a solution provider I try to be vendor neutral, though it’s difficult to not have an opinion. I recently migrated a business group from SBS 2003 Premium to SBS 2011 Premium, and have installed a few SBS Essentials/home server for business. This week’s news presents as a lesson in non-attachment, but also affirms that my clients are not going to stop depending on their local systems because their vendor wants to change the way they do business. If SBS as a product ceases to move forward, demand won’t suddenly evaporate.

A Shrewd Move or the Height of Folly?Disbanding one of Microsoft’s most successful product groups at the height of their success is either shrewd marketing or the height of folly. It is in any case a statement of priorities. Most companies do not succeed by encouraging their base to find other solutions. If Windows 8 becomes another Vista – a concept in search of a market — it might not be long before the executive team realizes how prolific the small business goose has been, and how difficult it may be to woo back customers who go elsewhere in search of simple unified solutions.

Ars Technica:
“Windows Home Server is dead, but we shouldn’t mourn it”

Redmoind Mag:
“Server 2012: An Upgrade Only a Geek Could Love”

” Microsoft Back Office Server”

“The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs”

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