Over the past few weeks, Microsoft has laid out the technology that will power small offices for the foreseeable future.

When these are on the market (likely within the next 3-6 months), the landscape for small businesses will be completely different than anything you have seen before. Each piece is an outgrowth of existing products and services, but each one represents a huge step forward in vision and execution.

If you are in a business with 1-25 computers, it is likely that you will be using one or more of these products, and probably sooner rather than later.

We will be choosing from six new products. Prices are low, the features are well chosen, and a rich add-on market is already forming. These are the products that will be running very small offices and more than a few homes.

I’m going to spend this week giving you some background and describing the specific components. We’ll start with a couple of history lessons so you can see the current landscape for very small businesses, then I’ll introduce the new products that will be released during the next 3-6 months. This is the very briefest of overviews of the upcoming products.

  • Small Business Server 2011 Standard – the next generation of the Small Business Server software now running many offices.
  • Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – a new smaller product that will be the first server for many very small businesses currently running a handful of workstations without a server. Despite the name, it has very little in common with other versions of SBS, past or future.
  • Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-on – an additional server for businesses needing to run SQL server for a line-of-business application.
  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – a new product built on an upgrade of Windows Home Server to provide file storage and workstation backups.
  • Windows Home Server v2 (code name Vail) – similar to Storage Server but even cheaper, with no domain membership.
  • Office 365 – the next generation of Microsoft’s hosted services, the essential piece that makes lower-priced, simpler servers work for a small business.

Next: a short history of Microsoft Small Business Server, the standard-bearer for small offices for ten years.

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