Microsoft Previews Small and Home Business Servers

Microsoft has announced a preview of the upcoming version of its Small Business Server (SBS), codenamed Aurora, that adds support for cloud computing, is now available.

During Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington in mid-July, Kevin Kean, general manager of Windows Home and Small Business Servers, blogged that the company would release previews of two new SBS versions before the end of summer.

This week, in fact, Microsoft is touting preview releases of two servers.

However, one of the expected SBS versions — codenamed SBS 7, and sometimes referred to as “standard edition” — is not one of them.

The previews do include Aurora, which is meant to bring small businesses into Microsoft’s cloud computing embrace — but the other is a new build of Windows Home Server, codenamed Vail, which has been in beta test since late April.

“Aurora is part of the next generation of our award winning Windows Small Business Server, and represents a significant departure from our traditional fully on premise model,” Kean said in a post to the Official SBS Blog on Monday.

“Aurora extends the ease of use of our traditional SBS products while simultaneously being a great platform for small businesses wanting to combine traditional and cloud computing,” he added.

According to Kean’s post, Aurora supports up to 25 users and is based on Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2).

Aurora is available for download from Microsoft’s Connect site.

Microsoft also released a version of its Windows Server Solutions Software Developers Kit for developers who want to write add-ins for Aurora.

What’s ahead for Microsoft’s ‘Vail’ home server?

Meanwhile, Microsoft is forging ahead with the latest beta build of Vail, which adds media streaming via remote access, the ability to backup and restore multiple PCs, and a simplified user interface (UI).

The latest build of the Vail beta is also available for download at Microsoft’s Connect site, along with a Vail preview SDK, Jonas Svensson, Microsoft community program manager, said in a post to the Windows Home Server Blog on Monday.

Microsoft says Small Business Server 7 on track

There has been no sign so far of SBS 7, which the company said in July would be the first preview out of the gate. However, the company says SBS 7 is right on schedule.

“The SBS 7 preview is on track [for release] at the end of August,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

When the preview is released, SBS 7 will update SBS’s remote access features and will also bring the server suite up to date with Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2), Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1), SharePoint 2010 Foundation, Windows Server Update Services 3.0, and SQL Server 2008 R2, the company said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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