Windows Server 2012 Essentials versus Window Server 2012 Foundation

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Microsoft has continued to support small businesses and home offices with value added software products even when competition on enterprise products is heating up. Of the various types of products that Microsoft has served the smaller market segment is the Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Foundation. Both products are great for small business and home offices but they do have important differences and similarities too.

Product Availability

Microsoft decided to release Windows Server 2012 Foundation before Windows Server 2012 Essentials perhaps as a marketing strategy to measure user response. Foundation was released in September with Standard and Datacenter while Essentials followed soon after. Although built to add complete functionality to any medium to small business, the availability of Standard and Datacenter in Windows Server 2012 Foundation is limited to the makers of servers and PCs and what is provided to users.

Product Licensing and Upgrading

Users can acquire Windows Server 2012 Foundation as part of the low-end server purchase while home users can purchase Windows Server 2012 Essentials on retail price and be able to install on their hardware. Both OEM and volume licensing versions are available and both products work fine on PCs running on Windows 7 and 8 which is a good indicator for users who would like upgrade. Both products can be upgraded to Standard.

User Support

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is specifically ideal for small businesses where technology upgrades may come as an overhead. It is targeted for small businesses not exceeding 25 users or more than 50 connected devices. Essentials has limit on the additional server products but many of these add-on products can be installed on demand. Windows Server 2012 Foundation supports only up to 15 users.

Active Directory

Although both Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Foundation support Active Directory (AD) each of them implement is it differently. Windows Server 2012 Essentials prompt users to create an Active Directory (AD) domain just like in Small Business Server. No more domain configuration is needed once Connector software is installed on client PCs. Windows Server 2012 Foundation functions like the mainstream Windows Server versions where you promote the server to a DC after installation.

Product Application

Windows Server 2012 Foundation functions as the basic starter version of Windows Server 2012 but since it features the same obtuse management tools, it needs experienced PC expert for configuration. On the other hand, Windows Server 2012 Essentials is simpler and has integrated centralized PC backup, network health monitoring and reporting, file and media sharing, Group Policy, integration with Office 365 and many other add-ons to enhance today’s small businesses.

Product Management

Windows Server 2012 Essentials comes with a Dashboard as the management console for optimal configuration of running tasks such as server backup, media sharing, automatic update and user accounts. Windows Server 2012 Foundation may require more experienced users for its operation as its management tools require experienced PC experts for configuration and management.


Jimmy Simpson III

I work small and micro businesses (between 1 and 75 users). I offer WordPress Development, Virtual IT Director Services, System Administration and Web Hosting.

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