By now, you have probably heard the news that Microsoft has announced the End-of-Life (EOL) of Windows Small Business Server (SBS)

We believe this announcement will affect many of you, and we want you to know there is no need to worry! Starting with the Windows Server 2012 line up, Windows Small Business Server Essentials has been renamed Windows Server 2012 Essentials. By making Essentials a full-fledged member of the Windows Server family, Microsoft is reaffirming their commitment to delivering a flexible, cloud-enabled server platform that is designed and priced for small businesses and the partners that serve them. Instead of Windows SBS, customers should now consider Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials for future purchases.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is a great choice for many SMBs. Essentials is an affordable, easy-to-use server for small businesses with up to 25 users, and 50 devices. It is an ideal first server, and can also be used as the primary server in a multi-server environment for small businesses. With Essentials, SMBs will be able to protect, centralize, organize, and access applications and data from almost anywhere using virtually any device.

Another reason Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is a great option for SMBs is that it can grow as the business grows. If the needs of the business change over time, customers can purchase and convert Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, removing the maximum user limits and device limits while retaining all data and configuration settings, as well as the unique value-add features that Essentials provides.

Microsoft designed Essentials to give customers flexibility to choose which applications and services run on-premises and which run in the cloud. In previous versions, Windows Small Business Server Standard included Exchange Server as a component product, which added expense and complexity for customers who wished to leverage cloud-based messaging and collaboration services. With Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, customers can take advantage of the same type of integrated management experience whether they choose to run an on-premises copy of Exchange Server, subscribe to a hosted Exchange service, or subscribe to Office 365.

Although the Windows SBS 2011 Premium Add-on, which included SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard for Small Business, will be the final version of that offering, if you are looking for a “premium” small business server offering we recommend to take a look at the latest versions of the component products of the Premium Add-on, Windows Server 2012 Standard and SQL Server 2012 Standard, which can be used together in a Windows Server 2012 Essentials environment to provide a robust, scalable platform for running line-of-business applications and other workloads, such as Exchange Server and SharePoint Server