Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

What’s wrong with Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server 2008? It’s not here yet.

Microsoft announced the new server family name on Feb. 20. Called Windows Essential Server Solutions family, it includes standard and premium editions of Windows Small Business Server 2008 and standard and premium editions of Windows Essential Business Server 2008 which is aimed at mid-sized companies.

VARs say the feature set in Windows Small Business Server 2008 looks good, but the product delivery is long overdue, and now is not scheduled until the second half of 2008.

That’s going to be a long wait for some of the customers of Silicon East, a VAR and MSP, and one of the beta testers of Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server 2008, code-named Cougar.

"It’s going to be a great product," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East. "The feature set is excellent. It brings Exchange and SQL and everything else up to date. It’s just long overdue. The sooner they can get it to us the better."

There’s a huge pent up demand for the server because the most recent version available is Windows Small Business Server 2003, a five-year-old product that is only available in a 32-bit version, said Harrison.

"No one wants to install 2003. There is no direct migration strategy from 2003 to 2008," he said. And because of that a migration from a new 2003 installation to a 2008 installation might even cost more than the servers themselves, he added.

"We have a lot of customers who have servers running 2003 that are now coming up on 5 years old," Harrison said. "That is the life expectancy of a server. It’s time to replace the hardware. We would be doing them a real disservice to sell them a 32-bit server when 64 bit is really a few months away, he said.

"It’s a tough position to do the right thing by your customer who needs the new server right now," said Harrison.

Other customers may prefer to stay with the 32-bit server if they have line of business applications created in-house on old software that only runs in a 32-bit environment, said Brad Kowerchuk, president of Bralin Technology Solutions, a VAR and one of the beta testers of Windows Small Business Server 2008.

For Kowerchuk, the new version of Small Business Server offers new features that will make a difference for his clients.

"The new management reporting console is going to do a good job for clients," he said. "It will help them simplify management challenges without having to have IT staff."

Clients will be able to better tell the difference between minor issues they can resolve themselves and major issues, which require a call to Kowerchuk to resolve.

The server also looks like it has good built-in disk to disk back up, and the recovery options are much better than in previous versions, he said.

Licensing has also been simplified. The standard SBS (Small Business Server) version offers a single server while the premium edition of SBS gives customers two servers so they can put their Microsoft Exchange and other such applications on one server and their business applications on the other one.

Similarly, the standard edition of Windows Essential Business Server offers three servers while the premium edition offers four.