Microsoft Windows Small Business Server and Microsoft Server Essentials have been an important offering for Small Business for over a decade. Lower cost of ownership was a big part of its success, however the features offered was the most significant selling point.
This year Microsoft has released the latest version of essentials - Windows Server 2019 Essentials, and suggested that it will be the last version of this product. Based on this incredibly featureless version we suggest the Windows Server 2016 Essentials is the last version.
In our evaluation (understanding customer requirements) Windows Server 2019 Essentials has lost all its important features that Small Business expect.
Key areas that no longer exist are:
- Client Backup - critical
- Remote web access
- Health Reporting
- Administrative Dashboard
Microsoft now states that ALL management and configuration must be performed manually, they certainly has missed the mark and target of Essentials products.
The Administrative Dashboard which allowed non-dedicated IT support to quickly attend to the management of the server and client machines.
Microsoft have suggested that the Administrative Dashboard is replaced by Windows Admin Center, we suggest it not a suitable replacement for customers that are seeking an Small Business Server with limited IT Support.
Small business owners that we have spoken to are in agreement that they require the Essentials Experience in Windows Server 2019 and that they would not consider the new version for migration. With the potential demise of the Essentials Server product this becomes an issue for those who have enjoyed this product range over the last decade or so. I should point out that these customers have custom LOB apps that will not be moved to the cloud.
Windows Server 2019 Essentials in no way represents the best of breed small business servers and like many Microsoft customers we do not recommend this latest version to fulfil your Small Business Requirements - it's a huge fail.
If you are current using Windows Server 2016 Essentials then you are probably better off staying with that version and start planning for alternative pathways for you on-premise requirements.