According to recent Microsoft statistics, there are roughly 36 million small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) worldwide with more than one PC. (Source: Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ.) Most of these SMBs view IT as a strategic imperative to grow their business.

Windows Small Business Server has been a great way for these businesses to consolidate their IT resources that integrate their needs. Microsoft decided to take this even further by replacing Windows Small Business Server with Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Microsoft hopes its new, flexible, and easy-to-use server solution will get wider adoption and help small businesses reduce costs and be more productive.

Why the name change

A Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ distributed by Microsoft states the change is meant to more clearly communicate how the solution is positioned in the market relative to other Windows Server editions. The name change also simplifies messaging to customers and partners and helps increase the product visibility and its unique value to small businesses. So in essence, when you purchase Windows Server 2012 Essentials, you are buying into the same family of products you have been using but with added features and better integration with Microsoft products.

Why the new version makes good business sense

Now with cloud support, Windows Server 2012 Essentials enables small businesses to go mobile while still protecting, centralizing, and organizing their applications and information and allowing access from virtually any device. Like all cloud services, it provides an elastic solution that grows as your business grows. For small businesses, these cloud economics can automate business processes, improve efficiency and productivity, and result in significant savings when implemented and managed appropriately.

Running Windows Server 2012 Essentials affords you the flexibility of traditional or onsite computing and having everything in the cloud. Users also get to choose the applications that run on-premise and those that run in the cloud.

Another reason Windows Server 2012 Essentials makes good business sense is because typically small businesses have few or no in-house IT staff, and they must rely on consultants or solution providers to get things done. Windows Server 2012 Essentials comes to the rescue by providing a reliable and integrated IT infrastructure that fits small business environments. Few configurations are needed to get the server solution up and running. Microsoft designed this new version of Windows Small Business Server Essentials in such a way that it installs and configures many of the roles and features out of the box. The solution is designed to be easily deployed and managed, making it a perfect option for organizations with limited IT resources.

Small businesses will also more easily leverage the growing ecosystem of online apps and services, including Office 365 and backup features, when they deploy Windows Server 2012 Essentials in the workplace.

Why it comes down to customer preference

The choice between deploying a hybrid onsite server over running everything in the cloud depends on your comfort level. Small businesses usually find it easier to run everything online, while enterprises (especially those that have invested in on-premise infrastructure) may find that maintaining an onsite presence makes more business sense. Depending on your industry and country, some regulations may require that you maintain onsite records.

Release date and pricing

Windows Server 2012 Essentials will be available for purchase on November 1, 2012. For more details, including pricing information, read the TechRepublic post Microsoft announces four Windows Server 2012 editions: What you need to know.