Windows Server 2012 R2 Editions

When Windows Server 2012 was released, you had the choice between Standard and Datacenter editions in both the Server Core and GUI versions. With the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, you have two more editions to choose from: Foundation and Essentials. Not only does each version have different features, but the price for each license reflects each version's features. Let's discuss the differences among all the editions.

Standard Edition
This is the enterprise-class cloud server and is the flagship OS. This chapter will cover in detail the changes affecting the Standard edition, because this is the most popular choice. This server is feature rich and will handle just about all your general networking needs. This server can be used for multipurpose or individual roles. It can be stripped down to its core for an even more secure and better-performing workhorse.

Datacenter Edition
This is Microsoft's "heavy-duty" virtualization server version. This is best used in highly virtualized environments because it sports unlimited virtual instance rights. That's right, I said unlimited! This is really the only difference between Datacenter and Standard, and of course this is reflected in the price; Datacenter costs about four times as much as Standard edition.

Foundation Edition
Foundation contains most core features found in the other editions, but there are some important limitations you should understand before you deploy it. Active Directory certificate service roles are limited to only certificate authorities. Here are some other limitations:

  • The maximum number of users is 15.
  • The maximum number of Server Message Block (SMB) connections is 30.
  • The maximum number of Routing and Remote Access (RRAS) connections is 50.
  • The maximum number of Internet Authentication Service (IAS) connections is 10.
  • The maximum number of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Gateway connections is 50.
  • Only one CPU socket is allowed.
  • It cannot host virtual machines or be used as a guest virtual machine.

Essentials Edition
This server is intended for very small companies with fewer than 25 users and 50 devices. This is a very cost-effective way to provide small business networking. Here are some but not all new features of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:

  • Improved client deployment
  • Can be installed as virtual machine or on a server
  • User group management
  • Improved file history
  • Includes BranchCache
  • Uses the dashboard to manage mobile devices
  • Includes System Restore

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