Microsoft today announced that it is expanding its Windows Server 2008 operating system family with the addition of the Windows Server 2008 Foundation (known as Foundation). In an unusual move, Microsoft created this new Windows Server edition to target small businesses with 15 or fewer users. What's more, Foundation will only be offered prepackaged through computer manufacturers - and could cost as little as $1,000 - and that's inclusive of the server hardware.
Actual availability of systems running Foundation will depend on how fast OEMs and channel partners put something together and ship it, though it is generally expected that the first such machines will be available for purchase in the next month or two.
So what are some of the factors that SMBs thinking of getting Windows Server 2008 Foundation should know about?
For one, SMBs considering Foundation need to be aware that this edition of Windows Server only supports up to 15 users. There is no upgrade path beyond this - outside of purchasing another edition of Windows Server and installing that. In comparison, Windows Server 2008 Standard allows an unlimited number of users. Hardware-wise, Foundation only supports one processor socket - regardless of processor cores. The amount of RAM that is supported is limited to just 8GB.
In addition, licensing will be done on a per-user level, also known as "per seat," not by the use of client access licenses (CALs). Whether this means that a small business can run multiple Foundation servers without paying for additional user licenses is unclear.
Further technical details pertaining to the innards of Foundation are scant at this point, and the Windows Server 2008 Foundation site doesn't provide much information in this regard. Despite the marketing rhetoric in the press release that Windows Server 2008 Foundation has the ability to "run databases" and "host Web sites," however, it is clear that Foundation is more like a low-cost version of Windows Server 2008.
With the kind of price point that is being tossed around, I personally reckon that any Web hosting and database functionality will need to be separately provisioned by means of popular open source options such as Apache for Web or MySQL for database.
In fact, let's revisit this combination at this SMB blog when actual servers with Windows Server 2008 Foundation start shipping.