Windows Server 2012 Will Have Feature Parity Across All Editions

Choose your SKU by how much you virtualize; SBS Standard going away

As my colleague Paul Thurrott and others have reported, Microsoft today released SKUs and licensing information on Windows Server 2012. I won't get into licensing details (though it's worth mentioning that there are only four SKUs now, down from twelve in Windows Server 2008 R2), I do want to point out a hugely significant statement on page 3 in the large Licensing and Pricing FAQ.

"Both Standard and Datacenter editions provide the same set of features; the only thing that differentiates the editions is the number of Virtual Machines (VMs)."

I've done a series of Windows Server 2012 road shows in the last six weeks. Everyone has come away impressed, but the number one question I received at these shows was, "Will all these features be available in the SKU I use, or will I need to pay extra?" Now we have the answer, and it drives the value of this new OS even higher – especially for small and medium businesses.

For $1762, Standard Edition will allow a small to medium business to run two 2-processor hosts, each with up to two Windows Server VMs, and get Shared Nothing Live Migration, Live Storage Migration, Hyper-V Replica, and other high availability and disaster recovery virtualization features – without requiring shared storage. This price point makes production-worthy virtualization finally available for this underserved market segment.

Unfortunately, very small businesses (one or two servers) will lament the fact that though Windows Server 2012 will contain Small Business Server Essentials (which provides a basic infrastructure with add-ons for cloud services), there will be no update to Small Business Server 2011 Standard. It's the end of the line. The document states, "The small business computing trends are moving in the direction of cloud computing for applications and services such as email, online back-up and line-of-business tools."

Just a few days ago, I predicted that Windows Server 2012 will be the most rapidly adopted server OS in Microsoft's history. This simplification and feature parity across editions will only accelerate the installed base.

Follow Sean on Twitter @shorinsean.

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