Microsoft Drops Essential Business Server

Bundle of server software gives way to customer demand for management, virtualization and cloud solutions.

Microsoft will discontinue development of its midmarket-focused Windows Essential Business Server (EBS).

"This decision not to ship future versions of EBS does not come lightly and will not impact any other Windows Server products and solutions, including the next version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS)," the company wrote in a blog post announcing the decision in early March.

The company attributed the decision to changing market requirements. Microsoft first began talking about the server, which was code-named "Centro," four years ago, citing a need among midsize companies with about 75 to 300 users and only a few IT professionals on staff for an integrated bundle of easy-to-manage-and-install server products. It was also billed as a strong fit for partners who could help midsize firms with installation and customization similar to partners' substantial business opportunity with SBS.

The only release of EBS launched in November 2008, just as the depth of the financial crisis and the potential scope of the current recession were both becoming clear and decimating spending on IT.

The Microsoft EBS team didn't refer to the recession directly in its blog entry, but wrote, "Since the launch of EBS, several changes have occurred that drove our decision to streamline our server product portfolio. [M]idsize businesses are rapidly turning to technologies such as management, virtualization and cloud computing as a means to cut costs, improve efficiency and increase competitiveness. Those capabilities are already available through other offerings, including Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS)."

Availability and development of the product will end June 30. Between then and Dec. 31, current EBS 2008 customers can get the individual component software from the EBS 2008 suite for free, the company said.

John Endter, president of E Squared C LLC, a Gold Certified Partner in Minden, Nev., says that despite his early enthusiasm for the product, his company never found the right client for a deployment of EBS. While Endter felt that EBS' unfortunate economic timing didn't help, he said the idea of the complete infrastructure rip-and-replace that EBS required was -- and still is -- an impediment for midmarket customers.

"It was a great product from the standpoint of the integration and making all the systems play together, but the potential disruption to a business was, I think, too high of a risk for a lot of companies to actually go forward with it," Endter says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.