Microsoft Discontinues Windows Home Server

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 6, 2012
Updated • Feb 21, 2014

Microsoft yesterday revealed the new Windows Server 2012 lineup, reducing available versions from 12 to 4. These four editions can be divided into two groups: First the Full Windows Server group, that is made up of the Datacenter and Standard edition. These editions differ in the number of virtual instances they can run and the price that they are available for. What's interesting in this regard is that Microsoft has moved to a processor + CAL (Client Access License) model which the company believes is easier to work with.

Both cover 2 CPUs in a host, with Standard supporting up to 2 Virtual Operating System Environments, while Datacenter an unlimited number.

The remaining two server editions use a different licensing model. Both Server 2012 Essentials and Server 2012 Foundation have a user account limit per server. Essentials is limited to 25 users, while Foundation to 15. The latter will only be available to OEMs, the former primarily to small business environments.

Edition Ideal for… High Level Feature
Licensing Model Pricing
Open NL (US$)
Datacenter Highly virtualized
private & hybrid
cloud environments
Full Windows
Server functionality
with unlimited
virtual instances
Processor + CAL* $4,809**
Standard Low density or non-
Full Windows
Server functionality
with two virtual
Processor + CAL* $882**
Essentials Small business
Simpler interface,
connectivity to
cloud based services; no
virtualization rights
Server (25 User
Account Limit)
Foundation Economical general
purpose server
General purpose
server functionality
with no
virtualization rights
Server (15 User
Account Limit)
OEM Only

What about Windows Home Server? Microsoft has stated that the company is going to discontinue the product. It will be available until December 31, 2013 after which it will be retired from most channels. Microsoft notes in the Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ:

Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media  streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.

Home users however may be in for quite the shock when they compare the price of the (recommended) Essentials edition to the price they have been paying for Windows Home Server 2011.

What is your take on the change and the discontinuation of Windows Home Server?


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  1. TazD said on July 8, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I’ve also been using WHS for years and whilst I’ve never found it to fully meet my needs it was definitely close and moving in the right direction. I’m currently running the latest edition and 4 media centre PC’c/laptops on it. I will be extremely sorry to see it go as its backups, large storage and media streaming has kept lots of would-be family emergencies and stupid kids arguments at bay, and for the price of £40 here in the UK its been well worth it. I even have friends and family using it to watch my kids home movies and store some of their own data in Australia! If you’re willing to tweak it’ll do just about anything you want.. over 400 dollars for the next version though and I might just pass.. unless it comes with Exchange :-) Microsoft are definitely making a mistake in removing this from their line up.

  2. JP said on July 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Been using WHS for several years now with no problems what so ever. Hate to see another good Microsoft Product fall by the wayside.

    For those haters out there I found that when paired with the correct hardware, WHS served all my needs from streaming my movies to my media pc to one click setup of remote access to my files. The only shortcoming I found was the server backup.

  3. Leland said on July 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    They are also killing off SBS (Small Business Server) which services up to 75 users. SBS was great because it included Exchange and had a premium edition that included SQL. They are pushing SBS customer to Office 365. I think this will bring about customized Linux servers that are aimed at SBS customers. Microsoft may have just killed off a good slice of their business…

  4. Fine citizen said on July 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    you’re an exception then, so what?

  5. ron said on July 6, 2012 at 11:50 am

    @ Roebie,

    Did you ever look at the prices? The HP WHS and alike servers are pretty nicely priced, and a install disk hovered around $60,=.

    How’s that for expensive? It’s never good/cheap enough for some people…..

    And to answer the first question, yes I use WHS for years now and am very happy with it. As are a lot of others out there. Educate yourself before commenting.

  6. Paul B. said on July 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    WHS was immensely popular – perhaps too much so from MS’s point of view. A price jump of 800% is infuriating. This makes me wonder what they have up their sleeve regarding the excellent Win8 upgrade offer.

  7. Roebie said on July 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

    “What is your take on the change and the discontinuation of Windows Home Server?”

    Did anyone actually use that monstrosity? Or any other Windows Server for that matter. Then you must have too much money.

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