For more than a decade the Windows Server team has been releasing Windows Server editions tailored to meet the needs of small business environments. Windows Server 2016 Essentials is the current in-market edition of Windows Server made for small business and is available for companies with up to 25 users.
As we started working on next version, Windows Server 2019, we looked closely on the impact of recent technology trends on small business customers. We observed that cloud computing, in addition to affecting how large enterprises think about their datacenters, is also impacting how small companies are planning their IT services. For example, we have Microsoft 365 Business that is easier to acquire, integrate with other cloud services, and is particularly effective in environments that do not have full-time IT staff. Especially, capabilities that small businesses need, like file sharing and collaboration are best achieved with a cloud service like Microsoft 365.
Furthermore, we recently collaborated with the MVP community and other influencers to listen and get a deeper understanding of the transition that our small business customers are going through. While our small business customers are embracing cloud services where they can, on-premises servers are still valuable and desired in the short term for reasons such as price and ability to run traditional applications that may not yet have corresponding cloud-based functionality.
All of this led to our decision to offer yet another version of on-premises server for small businesses – Windows Server 2019 Essentials. This edition will be released along with the other editions of Windows Server 2019 later this year. There is a strong possibility that this could be the last edition of Windows Server Essentials.
Windows Server 2019 Essentials will have the same characteristics as the 2016 version that small business look for:
- Single license that includes Client Access Licenses (CAL) for up to 25 users/50 devices
- Lower price point
- Ability to run traditional applications and other features, such as file and print sharing
What’s in Windows Server 2019 Essentials
Windows Server 2019 Essentials has the same licensing and technical characteristics as its predecessor, Windows Server 2016 Essentials. If configured as a Domain Controller, Windows Server 2019 Essentials must be the only Domain Controller, must run all Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) roles, and cannot have two-way trusts with other Active Directory domains.
Windows Server 2019 Essentials includes the new hardware support and features and improvements like Windows Server 2019 Standard, including Storage Migration Services, System Insights, and many more.
Windows Server 2019 Essentials will not include the Essentials Experience role. The Essentials Experience primarily simplified file sharing and device management. For a better management experience, we now have Windows Admin Center.
First and foremost, customers currently using Windows Server 2016 Essentials will be supported according to Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) servicing timeline.
For companies with more than 25 users/50 devices, or companies that have potentially grown beyond 25 users, Windows Server 2019 Standard – and potentially the Datacenter edition – can provide more flexible deployment options.
Finally, we highly recommend our small customers to consider Microsoft 365 as an option for their file sharing and collaboration needs. Microsoft 365 provides a complete, intelligent solution, including Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Microsoft 365 Business includes a richer feature set including Office, e-mail and calendaring, file storage in the cloud, data protection, and so much more, allowing our small customers to evolve their business and achieve new levels of productivity
We will continue to listen to our customers and provide solutions that meet their small business needs.