Microsoft plans to release crippled Windows Server 2019 Essentials

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 11, 2018

Microsoft announced plans to release Windows Server 2019 Essentials alongside Windows Server 2019 today. Windows Server Essentials, the current retail version is Windows Server 2016 Essentials, is specifically designed to address the needs of small businesses.

Small in this context refers to businesses with up to 25 users and up to 50 devices. Microsoft said there is a high probability that Windows Server 2019 Essentials will be the last edition of Windows Server Essentials. The company will support Server Essentials products based on the servicing timeline.

The characteristics of Windows Server 2019 Essentials don't change according to Microsoft when you compare them to the 2016 versions: user and device limits are the same, price will remain "low" and businesses will have options to "run traditional applications and other features, such as file and print sharing".

windows server essentials

Windows Server 2019 Essentials will have the "same licensing and technical characteristics" as Windows Server 2016 Essentials.

If configured as a Domain Controller, Windows Server 2019 Essentials must be the only Domain Controller, must run all Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) roles, and cannot have two-way trusts with other Active Directory domains.

Microsoft notes furthermore that Windows Server 2019 Essentials will support new hardware and features such as Storage Migration Services or System Insights but that it won't include the Essentials Experience role.

The removal leaves some system administrators and small businesses in a precarious situation as Windows Server 2019 Essentials won't support the following features anymore because of that:

  • Remote Web Access to the Server.
  • Centralized Client PC backups.
  • Office 365 integration.

Microsoft states that it talked to the MVP Community and "other influences" to understand the needs of small businesses and that the decision to release a Windows Server 2019 Essentials edition was the results of the talks.

At least one MVP that Microsoft consulted, Susan Bradley which you may know from the Ask Woody site, stated that Microsoft did indeed consult but that it appears that the company did not really react on the feedback provided.

As one of those MVPs referred to in the post, I can honestly say that while we gave feedback, it was not acted upon. This server is more like Foundation server, not Essentials. It does not have client backup nor Remote web accesss, two key technologies that now have to be replaced for those small business users and consultants that relied on those pieces.

Microsoft suggests that administrators and businesses use Windows Admin Center as a replacement for the lost functionality.

Closing Words

Microsoft's main motivation for crippling Windows Server Essentials is unknown but there is some evidence that it has something to do with getting as many businesses on Microsoft 365, especially Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service that includes Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility & Security.

It seems very unlikely that Microsoft will release another Server Essentials edition after the 2019 version.

Now You: What is your take on the announcement?

Microsoft plans to release crippled Windows Server 2019 Essentials
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Microsoft plans to release crippled Windows Server 2019 Essentials
Microsoft announced plans to release Windows Server 2019 Essentials alongside Windows Server 2019 today.
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  1. Anonymous said on April 4, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Jim – Y’all need a decent IT provider who is capable of installing an SMB grade firewall with redundant connections.

  2. Jim said on January 28, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    It is surprising to me that no one talks about the obvious weaknesses of any cloud system – security and reliability……I work in a medical office and because of the push for electronic records and digital x-rays we HAVE to have a connection to work…so when the internet is down we loose $5000-$10000 a day if we have a cloud system, but with a server on premise we keep working. The medical office upstairs has a cloud based system – at least 1-2 times a month their internet is out and they have to close……loosing $30,000 each day. We can’t wait to cancel patients in the hope it comes back up….once it is down we have to start calling people, but with a cloud system we couldn’t even get their phone numbers. The push to cloud computing is nice for microsoft adn for large businesses with more than 25 employees, but if Microsoft eliminates Server Essentials/foundation editions our server cost goes from $1200 to $4000 (right now our budget every 5 years is $4000 for all our computers) ……..Microsoft is wrong, small businesses need an inexpensive, simple server solution so they can load their Practice Management software on it (our Practice Management software is not supported for any cloud installations), have AD, GP, and file sharing. Foundation and Essential editions were the greatest thing to happen to the very small businesses with less than 10 employees and no budget for IT – before that we had to load our PM software on a butch desktop and do a peer-to-peer network…….so if everyone wants to move to the cloud then someone has to tell me what to do when the internet is down?

  3. Rickkee said on October 8, 2019 at 12:02 am

    Add it back using instructions here:

    Idk what future “updates” aka “downdates” will do to it, and would be hesitant to install it on a DC with 25 users, but kudos to the guy for his hack-a-thon to get it back!

  4. Jon said on May 3, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Microsoft is pushing their cloud services and have for years. This is another kick in the n**s from them to move to their Office 365 Business platform. “The cloud is great!” “Move to the cloud!” What about when SharePoint is down for a day and our clients cannot access their files? What about when we don’t want data on someone else’s server? Screw you! move to the cloud!

    P.S. Apparently there is a way to hack WSE2019 to install the Essentials experience if you have the WES2016 installation media. I, for one, do not want to do that in production, but it’s an option if you wish.

  5. shawn said on March 7, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    For me, SE2019 was a perfect fit for several of my clients. It’s almost as easy to install as Win10. Probably the easiest server setup I’ve ever had.
    It does exactly the things I need it to do and nothing else and it’s cheap.

  6. leland said on September 11, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Ever since they done away with SBS server they have given us these crippled versions with no Exchange server or SQL server. Now they are making it even more crippled. What next no more Windows Server without a Microsoft 365 for Business account? No thanks.

    Looking at Zentyal right now along with a few other Linux installations similar to SBS but with Linux. Easy to manage via web interface as well as traditional Linux command interface and GUI.

  7. Yuliya said on September 11, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Is it going to have Candy Crush? Because if not I’m installing Datacenter, that one I’m sure it has this game.

  8. Ann said on September 11, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    [quote] I can honestly say that while we gave feedback, it was not acted upon. [/quote]

    what comes as a surprise is that this statement comes as a surprise to them.

    Like most they only listen to the feedback, when the feedback is in line with that they want to hear.

    1. dmacleo said on September 11, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      yup. it really went to hell when SBS2011 (with built in exchange mail server) was last SMB server that worked for small businesses.

  9. Aegis said on September 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I think for a small company it would be easier to use a Linux based OS if the server is just for file- and printer sharing.
    I doesn’t make sense to use a crippled Windows Server for such easy tasks.

    1. dmacleo said on September 11, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      use 2012r2 essentials and FULL 2012r2 with essentials role installed in places.
      difference is full can do lot more, however for SMB essentails version is decent with win clients. the backup feature is a full disc image that can be restored from network boot or can just restore specific files from client app in client machine.
      nix based doesn’t offer that ease of restore that can be triggered from client OR server.
      course nix based seldom needs full restore like that so….sort of evens out if using nix clients.
      one thing to keep in mind if using essentials server is the dhcp on router must be disabled or set to a single address range. if essentials server “sees” a dhcp server on network service fails and backups/restores/file history/folder redirects can fail.

      1. Chris said on April 4, 2019 at 11:30 am

        Really? That’s your solution on into 2020? MS will eventually, as they always do, stop providing security updates and eventually any updates.

        I, for one, am seriously considering dumping windows entirely. With the advent of dotNet Core, and now this, I see no compelling reason to continue supporting this dying eco-system.

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