Microsoft will release a public beta of its Small Business Server "7" by the end of the month, according to the company. That platform is meant to complement Microsoft's two upcoming servers, code-named Vail and Aurora, which were released in preview-build form in August.
Like Vail and Aurora, Small Business Server "7" will likely receive a more formal name ahead of its release. Microsoft claims the platform will support up to 75 Client Access Licenses, perform automatic server backups, allow IT administrators to organize and access files from off-premises, and deploy advanced e-mail and document-sharing capabilities.
"We can confirm that SBS 7 will reach public beta by the end of September," a Microsoft spokesperson e-mailed to eWEEK Sept. 7. More information about the platform can be found here.
The question of an SBS 7 beta was originally raised by All About Microsoft's Mary Jo Foley.
Microsoft's recent server development clearly shows the influence of the company's "all in" cloud strategy. Aurora, which is targeted at small businesses and supports up to 25 user accounts, includes access to pay-as-you go online services, along with administrator access from common Web browsers. Vail, the next version of Microsoft's Windows Home Server, includes features such as media streaming outside a home or office and improved multi-PC backup and restore.
However, Microsoft seems to be angling Small Business Server "7" more as a strict on-premises solution, touting it on a corporate Website as "perfect for small businesses who already have a server or prefer to use email and collaboration tools hosted directly on premise."
Microsoft has offered no definitive word on a release date for its new server platforms, although the Vail and Aurora preview builds are presumably much closer to the finished products. In the meantime, the company has pursued its now-regular strategy of soliciting user feedback, hoping to iron out as many persistent bugs as possible before the release.
"You can provide feedback about the new build through our Connect site and even log ideas or feature suggestions for future versions of Windows Home Server," Jonas Svensson, Community Program manager for the Windows Home Server team, wrote in an Aug. 16 posting on The Windows Blog.
Despite its legacy on-premises platforms, Microsoft executives have given increased attention to the cloud in recent months. "We are going to lead with the cloud," Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said during a speech at the company's Financial Analyst Meeting July 29. "Leading with the cloud actually helps better position Microsoft to sell more on-premises products than we ever have before ... very strategically it signals a very clear commitment to our customers and to our partners."
Microsoft's cloud strategy also presents a competitive threat to the likes of IBM and Novell, among others. However, cloud initiatives such as Azure, Microsoft's cloud-development platform, have not yet contributed in any significant way to the company's fiscal bottom line, which is still fed by traditional software platforms such as Windows 7.
One can presume, though, that future releases of Microsoft's server products will embrace cloud functionality more and more, in keeping with a strategy that also sees the company's business clients handing over their IT administration and infrastructure to Microsoft's remote services.