back to article MS punts stripped down Windows Server 2008 at tiny SMBs

Microsoft has today released a new server product from its Windows 2008 family, aimed at small, cash-strapped businesses that have so far shunned the software giant's current Small Business Server (SBS) offering. Windows 2008 Foundation is essentially a stripped down version of the standard edition of Windows Server '08. …


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  1. Robert Lee


    As usual, they withhold sales figures, this, even to someone with little or no experience, simply meant the figures is shite, or they are too shy to release lower than low numbers.

    Hardly surprising, SBS2008 looks good on paper, may even be good working, but the fact that it needed 4GB as a minimum setup, have put off many of our customers, as most servers they have max out at 4GB, meaning a whole new server, as well as everything else that goes with it, correct me if I am wrong, shouldnt their programmers be clever enough to produce leaner and meaner code as technology moved on ? its totally opposit when comes to MS products, each release gets bigger and bloater, sure the OS has to cover a lot of ground, but surely not to such size ? The other issue is is it worth upgrading ? with Server 2003 and SBS2003 all doing a wonderful job, the extra features they put in 2008 are really no use to about half, if not more current users, yet required something big and huge to run it on, I think they just got lazy and lost vision of what a consumer really want.

  2. Roger Greenwood

    SBS con

    SBS is a big con. None of it works properly and has to be replaced piecemeal to get the setup you need. No wonder they can't sell any, they've been rumbled.

    I bought it once, but never again. Better stuff, more suited to each business is available at lower cost anyway.

    Try ftgate for an email server, for instance - brilliant for small businesses. What?, SBS doesn't include exchange?? There you go then - con.

  3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Small business file and printer sharing...

    Small business file and printer sharing... that'll be a networked printer and a cheap and cheerful hard drive attached to the network (NAS) then. Not a lot of cost to that.

    On the other hand, you could pay upwards of £2000 on hardware and software and wind up with a slow, inefficient, unmanageable, power hungry, noisy and large system taking up valuable office space.

    Of course, if you're an IT professional, it's easy to see the shortcomings in the cheap system but for a typical smaller business that doesn't want to "waste" so much cash just on computer systems, it's an easy choice to make.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    North of 90%

    Does this mean more than 90% If so why not say so. If he'd said "South of 90%" would it mean less?

    Sometimes I do wonder about people like that.

  5. Neil Hoskins
    Gates Halo


    Which was the version of SBS that you tried? In typical third-time-lucky MS-fashion, SBS2003 is actually outstanding value for money, easy for amateur, numpty, part-timers like me to administer, and works very securely, reliably and efficiently, thank you very much.

  6. Pawel

    File and print server?

    Take the oldest pc in the office, put ubuntu server on it et voila - zero cost file/printer server in less than 2 hours :-).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £2000 for SBS?

    For that money, you could get yourself an all expenses paid trip to Scunthorpe.

    Get a Linux server going on an old but still serviceable box, innit?

  8. Linbox

    The bloat has gone beyond a joke.

    I spent 6 hours yesterday installing MS SQL "Express" 2008. In previous incarnations, (MSDE) it was a 42Mb download and a 15-20 minute start to finish job. The "Express" download is something like 200Mb but it needs .NET3.5 (260Mb) plus about 4 other separate downloads which you have to find and fetch yourself, despite the fact it now has an incredibly long-winded installation manager. Throw in 3 reboots (THIS IS A SERVER!) and two failed .NOT installs, a new Browser function that doesn't start until you beg it to and you really have the biggest pile of shit ever.

    How is this helping me? I used to evangelise MSSQL but I'm getting to the point now that I am desperate for a smaller, easier to install alternative.


  9. Roger Williams

    1st April

    Erm, this IS a (slightly less obvious) April Fool's joke, right?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Hard-won experience

    "Take the oldest pc in the office, put ubuntu server on it et voila - zero cost file/printer server in less than 2 hours :-)."

    NEVER use an OLD PC as a server - at least not a critical one - unless you like the excitement of never quite knowing when that disk is going to give up, or the PSU fail, or the RAM start to report errors...!

  11. Yeah Right
    Gates Horns

    SBS is horrible.

    I went down the SBS2003 road for one client. They needed sql server for some horrible office management software and SBS was the cheapest option...or so we thought. The feking thing forces itself to be a PDC. Any and all configuration has to be done through included castrated configuration software that can never seem to actually do what you want it to do. If you attempt to configure anything through normal methods then the whole thing explodes into a massive fireball of crashing failure. It's as if they got the Microsoft BOB team to design the admin interface and then paid other programmers to install land mines in MMC and elsewhere.

    After using Server 2003 and finding it to be not-all-that-horribly-bad-by-MS-standards I was amazed at how horrible SBS2003 was.

    Neil: how much does MS pay you?

  12. Carlos_c
    Gates Halo

    @yeah RightI

    I think you should go and read the manual - I look after 30 + SBS installations and it is a doddle to use. You just have to learn what it does and how it is different from standard 2003

  13. Psymon
    Gates Halo

    MS really don't seem to have propper focus in the small business sector

    I suppose they're at least trying with this latest offering.

    For mid to large enterprises the MS offerings are outstanding. Server 2003 R2 is an absolute dream to use, replete with so many features out-the-box, that most admins in a corporation of significant size wouldn't bat an eyelid at the price of either software or the iron needed to run it.

    If you're in the education sector then you're laughing too. £30 for a server licence, £7 a CAL? Cheap as chips, mate!

    It's only when you get into the small private sector that things really start to sting.

    @Robert on 2003/2008

    I can see your point to an extent, but I suppose it all depends on your enterprises needs. 2008 is more of a fix to features that were conspicuous by their absence, rather than a complete revamp, with the odd exception. Group Policy Management now pretty much contains every single configuration option you could possibly wish to apply to your clients, all wrapped up in a much friendlier editing environment. I could evangelise MS from dawn till dusk for giving me GPMC – and I have the time to do it thanks to the automation it’s provided me. Any improvements then, are always welcome.

    The server core option on the other hand (a GUI-less, stripped down instillation option, which does very significantly reduce the OS footprint) combined with Bitlocker will give you something quite new in the MS offerings.

    You will end up with an entirely self contained encrypted box streamlined to perform only the functions you defined during instillation. Stick it in the corner of one of your off-site offices and forget all about it. Changes are all done through administrative tools which you can access from another server or your own workstation.

    I’ve not had chance to play with this yet, but I can only speculate that stripping away everything but the bare essentials has to improve reliability and speed.


    Too right! Mssql 2008 is a joke! Equally, I’m deeply unimpressed with office2007s’ performance too. My opinions on vista/windows 7 were equally low until I started talking to our software developers, and they evangelised the new APIs for sound a graphics management.

    But where is my WinFS?!?!? NTFS is getting pretty long in the tooth now. WinFS promised an extensible relational database driven filesystem. The benefits of which should be apparent to anyone who’s worked with databases. File speeds of listing and searching would be blisteringly fast, and the extensible metadata opens huge doorways.

  14. RW

    Leaner, meaner, bigger, bloater

    I love speculating about Microsoft's internals. It's an occupation similar to the China watchers who used to perch in Hong Kong and try to deduce what was happening behind the Bamboo Curtain on the basis of the faintest and most oblique of clues.

    In this case, once again I am persuaded that MS has a corporate culture that has led to loss of control by management. As a result, MS can't write lean, mean, smaller, unbloated software even if their lives depend on it. I don't know who, if anyone, is in charge. Possibly marketing has retained their baleful influence, but it may be that no one is in charge, no one has the power to say "stop that right now!" when the software types fuck up once again.

    There's an old adage, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" and I begin to wonder if MS's repeated pratfalls the last few years are symptoms of an impending corporate failure. Sooner or later even the stupidest member of the MS customer base is going to bail out and either buy a Mac or install Linux, and then where is Redmond?

    PS: in this household, printer sharing is the job of an antiquated e-Machines Win98 box, while file sharing is handled by an up to date Ubuntu box with a nice fat hard drive.

  15. Joe Montana


    How stupid is this, spend extra money developing a stripped down version, and then charge less for it? Why not just charge less for the existing version and save the time/effort/cost/confusion of having so many different versions... And give end users the ability to choose exactly what they have get at install time... Make everything modular, so individual parts can be selected or deselected at install time or afterwards easily.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Sared of Lotus Foundations Appliance

    Clearly they are scared to death of IBM's traction in only a few months with Lotus Foundations which for those of you that have not seen it is literally an appliance and it does everything SBS and EBS do.

  17. Neil


    SBS 2003 is a great product.

    SBS2008 offers the same.....but it's about 150% more expensive.

    Ahhh say Microsoft, it's cheaper though if you look at the CAL costs. Yes...if you buy more than 25 CALS that is.

    MS have priced their SMB product out of the SMB market.

  18. Mike Gravgaard


    I wonder if this is Microsoft attempting to reclaim the small office market from Linux??

    I mean if you thought of what you needed before buying you would possibly only need a small server, a linux distro of choice (mine would be Debian) or NAS box, a reasonably powerful server, a switch, tape backup and some PCs running either Windows or Linux and a reasonable system admin type person.

    I think Microsoft cannot really compete with Linux on this front but they still try regardless.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    SBS is a false economy, anyone I know who has bought it in the past ended up buying the standard edition of Windows server within a year.

    I also wonder why MS doesn't just sell "Windows Server" at a reasonable price. Keep it simple, people don't need the levels of bullshit layered on and it has to be a lot cheaper to produce.

  20. Sooty

    @robert lee and others

    "correct me if I am wrong, shouldnt their programmers be clever enough to produce leaner and meaner code as technology moved on ?"

    You're wrong!!

    As the price of storage, both RAM and disk has become less of a premium, the focus for developers has moved away from lean, mean, unmaintainable code. To produce code that is now better structured, much more portable & robust, easier to update and troubleshoot. If that means that it's slightly slower, takes up twice as much space on a disk, and/or uses more memory, well tough luck.

    why do you think people use xml and html? they're not exactly bandwidth or space friendly, but they are very easy to use.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's not "the focus for developers has moved", it's that developers are lazy and think that it doesn't matter. Anyone who works in a decent sized corporate environment knows that it does matter, and memory, disk etc is only half the cost. Half my working life has been spent telling developers why their code doesn't work. Developers always blame hardware / O/S / Network, everyone else always proves it's shoddy code.

  22. P Saunders
    Paris Hilton

    Windows Starter Edition for the server market

    I'm surprised they didn't limit it to a maximum of 1GB RAM, three apps running at a time and only 4 simultaneous users.

    Paris, 'cause she too is limited in many ways

  23. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    Translated = like vista nobody wants to pay for bloat!

    Translated - Nobody is paying for this bloatware, so lets remove the bloat and make it cheaper.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @ Simon B - Translated

    Although no one does want to pay for bloat, the way Microsoft plays these things is to use the same code as standard version of the software but then hard code in limitations and prevent functionality to create a "cut down version" hence the term "Crippleware" It actually adds to the bloat. They should just have one version of the software, sell it cheap and lose the CAL bullshit.

  25. Wortel

    Strip Windows?

    What did they do, remove Explorer?

    Windows is already the most basic OS on the planet, if you remove any more there's nothing left to install.

    SME Server would be a better, and cheaper, alternative.

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