Microsoft announced pricing and details on the upgrade to their bundle aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, following their announcement of a beefier product last November. Small Business Server 2008 (SBS) will continue to support up to 75 users, while Essential Business Server (EBS) can handle up to 250.  SBS has seen a steep price increase over the 2003 version, but Microsoft will now allow customers to buy client access licenses one at a time, which softens the 80% hike a little.

Microsoft’s New Math on SMB Servers (Internet News)

Though understandably buggy (it is RC0), EBS has already had some good reviews, citing a friendly UI and an easy-to-use server management console that even a “novice engineer” can learn fairly quickly.  When RC0 of SBS releases in 2-3 weeks, it is supposed to include a trial for OneCare for Server, a security system that can handle smaller businesses with up to 25 users.  SBS will also not do client backup, but there is speculation that EBS may incorporate that feature in a future release.

Review: Sneak Peek at Microsoft Essential Business Server Part II (ChannelWeb)

Microsoft Eyes SMB Security with OneCare for Server (eWeek)

Microsoft SBS 2008 Won’t Do Client Backup (bMighty)

Microsoft’s new offerings will definitely appeal to many businesses with limited IT staff, and the pricing will certainly save money over buying the bundled products individually. I wonder how much more Microsoft can sell in this space, but for companies wanting more functionality, SBS and EBS have a lot to offer.  Does either SBS or EBS make sense for your business?