Microsoft Ships Small Business Server 2011 Release Candidate

Microsoft is shipping a “release candidate,” or RC, of the next version of its Small Business Server (SBS). That’s the final testing stage before one of the company’s products is released to the public.

The package, named Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, had originally been codenamed Aurora. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) quietly announced it reached RC stage late last week, along with the latest version of Windows Home Server (WHS), which was previously codenamed Vail.

Among the new capabilities coming in SBS 2011 Essentials is the ability to link up to Microsoft’s cloud computing environment.

“Demand for online services is growing fast all over the world, especially in the small business space. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials has been designed to facilitate the connection to the cloud with its integration between on-premise and online services,” according to an online Microsoft document.

The company also earlier shipped another version of SBS — originally codenamed SBS 7 and now known as SBS 2011 Standard — in mid-December, according to a post to the Server and Tools Business News Bytes blog.

Among the enhancements made to both SBS 2011 Essentials and SBS 2011 Standard — besides Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2) — are the addition of the 2010 versions of Exchange, and SharePoint Foundation Services. As a product, SBS has been around for more than a decade.

The two new SBS suites began beta testing last summer.

In November, Microsoft officials announced pricing for the SBS suites. SBS 2011 Essentials will cost $545 for the server license and will support up to 25 users. No client access license (CAL) is required. Microsoft has said SBS 2011 Essentials will ship during the first half of the year.

Meantime, SBS 2011 Standard, which supports up to 75 users, costs $1,096 for the server license, along with a CAL that costs about $72 per user.

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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