Microsoft Small Business Server 2008

With Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, Microsoft has added big business functionality to an affordable SME tool.

Microsoft Small Business Server 2008
  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2008
  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2008
  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2008
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Most affordable SBS yet

Cons

  • Purchase price not as low as Linux

Bottom Line

With the release of Small Business Server 2008, Microsoft shows signs of understanding that small businesses have a wider range of server options than ever before. For most small companies, SBS 2008 will provide the basic functions necessary for the business in a package that is easy to set up and administer, and that integrates readily with Microsoft Windows Vista and XP clients. The purchase price won't be as low as Linux, but the polish and ease of use are both high, and the single-user CAL makes SBS 2008 the most affordable SBS yet. Microsoft has been listening — and this time, it shows.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

The two-tiered staff

When we spoke with Microsoft before beginning the review process, they told us that focus groups pointed out a two-tier model for IT support in many small businesses. The first tier is internal IT staff, usually a single individual whose business card should probably read "utility player".

This IT generalist has to keep up with all the server, client, and application software for the company, as well as tend to all the hardware. Their knowledge is broad, but may not be terribly deep on any given topic. Deep product expertise, when it's needed, typically comes from an outside contractor assigned to specific projects, like setting up servers or applications. That's the second tier.

Microsoft's response to this two-tier support structure provides two distinct ways of making most things happen within SBS. The first tier is a series of wizards and control panels that draw heavily from Vista's look and feel. For most basic tasks, these work well and provide just enough hand-holding to keep you from getting lost if you don't spend your working life on this one product.

The trade-off for ease of use is fine-grain control; there are levels of functionality that you just can't get to from the bright colours and big buttons. For tasks where you do need to get more intimately involved with SBS's inner workings, the Windows Management Console is available. Consultants and specialists who spend a good deal of time working with Windows Server will quickly take to this familiar interface.

Small Business Server doesn't wrap all the management functions for the server-based applications into a single interface, and you can't say that all the applications (in their various versions) use a consistent interface. SBS does, however, provide the dual interfaces for the operating system, and all the applications are consistent in the use of Windows Management Console at the highest level.

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