Microsoft Unveils Small Business Server Pricing, Release Dates

Microsoft has unveiled final names and pricing for its next generation of Small Business Servers, which seek to combine on-premises computing with cloud features.

Microsoft is unveiling the final names and pricing for its new generation of Small Business Servers, which step away from the traditional small business server model to embrace virtualization and cloud features.

"Since we announced the availability of the beta version of Windows Small Business Server code-name Aurora and Windows Small Business Server -7,' both products have been downloaded more than 9,000 times through both our partner and customer community," Manlio Vecchiet, director for Windows Server product management and Windows Server marketing, wrote in a Nov. 2 posting on The Official SBS Blog. Now the time has come, evidently, to announce "final names, licensing and estimated availability" for those products currently in public preview.

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, formerly known as Aurora, will retail for an estimated $545. Kevin Kean, general manager of Windows Home and Small Business Servers, wrote in an August posting on The Official SBS Blog that Aurora "represents a significant departure from our traditional fully on-premises model" via its combination of traditional and cloud computing.

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials offers advanced backup and file-restoration features, and can be accessed from common Web browsers. It also offers fast access to online platforms such as Office 365 and hosted e-mail, and supports up to 25 user accounts. It requires no user CALs for access, and will release in the first half of 2011.

After that comes Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, once stuck with the thoroughly unoriginal moniker Windows Small Business Server "7," which will retail for an estimated $1,096 with CALs priced at $72. Microsoft had previously angled this offering, which supports up to 75 users, as more of an on-premises solution, once touting it on a corporate Website as "perfect for small businesses who already have a server or prefer to use e-mail and collaboration tools hosted directly on premise."

Microsoft expects to release Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard through its server licensing channels in December, with further availability via OEMs and System Builders in February 2011.

The company is also offering Windows Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-On, an additional server for supporting SQL Server-based LOB applications and access to Windows Server 2008 R2 technologies. The add-on includes Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard and SQL Server 2008 R2 for Small Business, and is meant for role-based deployments such as virtualization through Hyper-V.

Pricing for the add-on is estimated at $1,604 with CALs at $92. According to Microsoft, it will "also be available with the release of Windows SBS 2011 Standard in December."

Despite Microsoft's traditional presence in on-premises servers, the company's newfound "all in" cloud strategy has dictated it begin incorporating more and more online functionality into its offerings. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft executives have positioned this migration as an opportunity to fatten its own bottom line while appealing to customers' need for increased scalability and flexibility.

"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 our partners."

Microsoft's competitors in the enterprise-infrastructure arena include some of the biggest names in tech, such as IBM and Oracle. While Microsoft claims a growing number of users for its cloud-based offerings-Windows Azure supposedly has more than 10,000 users, and the company claims to control some 20 percent of the virtualization market-those initiatives have yet to contribute significantly to Microsoft's bottom line, currently dominated by its traditional on-premises offerings.