The the Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 Essentials released and available for download. Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Essentials (formerly Windows Small Business Server Essentials) is a flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use server solution designed and priced for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices that helps them reduce costs and be more productive.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been designed as the ideal first server for Small Business and Home Offices. Although there will not be a next version of Windows Home Server (WHS), Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in WHS, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Essentials enables small businesses to protect, centralize, organize and access their applications and information from almost anywhere using virtually any device. Additionally, Essentials has the ability to grow as your business grows, providing an elastic solution that allows you to purchase and then perform an in-place conversion to Windows Server 2012 Standard if your business needs change over time.
- Increased support for importing your own SSL certificates. Previously, customers had to do a lot of work to configure domains obtained in our domain wizard by using SSL certificates that were acquired outside of our domain wizard. We have now updated our wizard, which should make this process much simpler.
- Installation of only critical setup updates during setup. One of the things that all Microsoft teams care about is getting customers up and running as quickly as possible. With the RC release we have changed our logic to only install critical setup-related updates during setup time. This might not seem to be a big issue if you only occasionally install Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but to partners that install Windows Server 2012 Essentials often, this change will make setup faster and more predictable. Note that customers will continue to select the update strategy that they want to use after the server has been set up.
- Windows SBS Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) changes. We have updated the BPA rules to include the latest set of rules and have also made it possible to ignore specific BPA rules by using our UI.
- Office 365 changes. We have now made it easier to import existing Office 365 users into Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
- Verified DHCP supported. Windows Server 2012 Essentials supports turning on the DHCP role and setting a static IP address for the server.
For a complete list of new features, please see this post.