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Comparing Windows Home Server Vail, WSS 2008 R2 and SBS 2011 Essentials


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Sean Daniel has just posted a really good article on his blog called Announcing Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and in it he compares some of the differences between Home Server Vail, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.


Sean goes on to look at the differences between Vail, WSS 2008 R2 and SBS 2011 Essentials:

As you can see, it looks a lot like the Windows Home Server Codename “Vail” Edition and the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Edition. That’s because it is! It shares the same underlying architecture, which means all the same add-ins work on WSS 2008 R2 Essentials, as they do on the other products.

So what is the differences?

Server comparison

Aside from the ability to Domain Join, and the user limit increase, there are some subtle differences you’ll notice throughout the product that have more of a business “tint”, like if you choose to use WSS 2008 R2 Essentials for Remote Web Access, you’ll notice the same defaults you see in SBS 2011 Essentials, instead of what you see in Home Server. There are also some changes to HomeGroup defaults as well. The last thing to note is while you can install WSS 2008 R2 into an SBS 2011 Essentials, or WHS Vail environment, the client connector from each of these products cannot be installed on the same PC.

So why should you consider WSS 2008 R2 Essentials for your small business or customer?

  • PC Backup for up to 25 PCs in your SBS 2008, 2011 Standard network. And yes, you can run multiple devices in the same network, and choose who has access via a domain group
  • Server backup – backup those PC Backups and other critical data on the WSS 2008 R2 Essentials server. (no, you can’t include the backup of this into your SBS backup)
  • Similar console management as our other products. But if you domain join, you don’t manage users from this console, and the password policy is inherited from the domain (even for local users left on the WSS 2008 R2 Essentials box)
  • If you are installing it into a standard server environment, enjoy the Remote Web Access functionality
  • Additionally, monitor the health of computers in your network
  • Media streaming in the business (training videos, etc)

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 essentials should be released in the first half (H1) of next year (2011). While it can work as a stand alone NAS device, it’s primarily targeted at Small Businesses with an Active Directory in place and the need for PC Backup and media streaming functionality. When it’s released, it will be available through multiple OEM channels with multiple form factors.

You can read the whole of his post here.

And for anyone who read his post earlier, yes, it did say WSS 2011 and he has now changed it to WSS 2008 Smile Sean works very hard so we can let him off!

You can also check out our post from yesterday as well annoucncing WSS 2008 R2 Essentials.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. 1. Can you disable the domain controller in SBS 2011?

    2. Can you install applications or server software on WSS 2008?

    • 1 – I havent tried, but I think you should be able to

      2 – yes, you should be able to

      Why not download the trial versions and try for yourself?


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