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Microsoft Releases Preview of Windows SBS 7

Microsoft today released a test version of Windows Small Business Server code-named "7," which is the successor to the current SBS 2008 product.

This release is described as a "public preview" by Microsoft and it can be downloaded by those who have registered at the Microsoft Connect portal page here (it requires a Windows Live ID sign-up too). Microsoft announced in July that SBS 7 would be arriving at summer's end at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C. At that time, Microsoft promised an upgraded software stack to come with the new server.

According to Kevin Kean, general manager of the Windows Home and Small Business Server team, the SBS 7 product will include technologies such as "Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1, Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 and Windows Software Update Services."

Microsoft improved the security and management capabilities in SBS 7, as well as file and print handling, Kean explained in a blog post. It's also now easier to provide Internet and e-mail access to end users, according to the post.

In general, SBS 7 provides a single-console management view. Users can set up automatic file backups, monitor the status of clients for antivirus and security updates, and manage the network's firewall. SBS 7 also supports the addition of add-ons, which extend the functionality of the server. Add-ons represent an opportunity for Microsoft's partners to better customize the server to meet the needs of small business customers.

The server can be integrated with Microsoft Office, enabling small business users to tap into remote access via Office Web Apps, which are limited browser-based versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote.

Like SBS 2008, SBS 7 will be limited to supporting up to 75 client access licenses. Earlier this summer, Microsoft released a public preview of a similar server for small businesses code-named "Aurora." Billed as the "first server" for small businesses, Aurora can support less than 25 users. For organizations with even fewer personnel, Microsoft released a preview of Windows Home Server "Vail," which handles backup and file sharing for up to 10 PCs.

Microsoft used to offer a product called "Windows Essential Business Server" (EBS), which was designed to support midsize organizations of 75 to 300 users. However, in April, Microsoft killed off EBS. On June 30, Microsoft ended the availability and development of the EBS product.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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