The 2008 version of its Windows Small Business Server offering now supports up to 75 users, and for those who grow bigger again, the Essential Business Server (EBS) version provides for up to 300 users.
That's good news for resellers and end-users who have been bumping into the upper limits of the previous version and baulking at forking out for the full version of the server along with the Exchange and SQL servers in the bundles.
The other good news for SBS users is that they will get the 64-bit edition of Windows 2008. Why is Microsoft suddenly feeling so generous?
Well, Exchange now only comes in 64-bit so they didn't really have much option.
Still good news for SMB users who now get the faster version for no extra cost, relatively speaking.
The other good news is that the 2008 version allows you to run the SQL server on a separate physical server, while the file server and Exchange live on the main physical server. These could of course be virtual servers.
If you opt for the EBS edition then you run three physical servers one for files, one for Exchange and one for security.
The premium edition adds SQL server which also runs on its own physical box, giving you four servers but since this kit is designed for up to 300 users, you probably want the extra servers. You could start out with virtual servers of course and move to physical servers when demand grows.
Microsoft is expecting a lot of the blade server vendors to jump aboard with this edition and why wouldn't they?
They get to unload four blades instead of one, without scaring the customer with the price of four copies of Windows Server 2008.
From the end-user perspective SBS 2008 got a whole lot easier to setup and manage with wizards appearing everywhere and waving their magic wands.
If you set your router to UPnP then SBS 2008 can even open and close ports on the router as required to make things work.
You also get built-in backup with the new version. Oh, sorry, you get really decent useful backup rather than the lame excuse in earlier versions.
The new backup is sort of Acronis Lite in that it does images and snapshots on demand and can even restore to bare metal, but it can only store the backups on an attached USB drive. Hence there's still room in the market for Storage Craft and Acronis to sell their more versatile offerings.
You also get built-in patch management an easy to use version from the main management console to control the flow of updates to workstations, and you can also check which ones have the latest anti-virus installed although you can't send out updates directly.
For that you still need a separate anti-virus console, which Microsoft will happily sell you via its One Care offering.
There's a lot to like with the new version of SBS and the brand-new EBS but you'll have to wait until the November 12 launch to get your hands on it in the shops.
However, rumour has it that copies will be on sale somewhat earlier and for those with the bandwidth you can download trial versions to play with before then. Take a look if you haven't already, and if you found SBS 2003 a bit too small for your needs, you might find the new version fits just right.
Opinion: Size matters
By Ian Yates on Sep 4, 2008 3:55PM