Microsoft has killed off Windows Home Server, released in 2007 and last updated in April 2011, this branch of Windows will be phased out with the launch of Windows 8. The features of Windows Home Server will be subsumed into the Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Windows Home Server 2011 will remain available until the end of 2013, while OEMs looking to make embedded systems around the OS have the option of buying licenses through the end of 2025, but as they won't receive upgrades or feature enhancements this won't be a popular option.
'Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community,' Microsoft explained in its release on the matter. 'For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.'
The death of Windows Home Server comes as Microsoft tries to simplify its server offerings. Where the previous Windows Server release was available in a total of twelve different guises, Windows Server 2012 will be made available in just four: the OEM-only Windows Server 2012 Foundation, which comes with a 15 user account limit; Windows Server 2012 Essentials, priced at $425 assuming no licence plan is in place and limited to 25 user accounts; Windows Server 2012 Standard, priced at $882 and with support for two virtual instances; and Windows Server 2012 Datacentre, priced at $4,809 and with support for unlimited virtual instances.