Windows Small Business Server 'Aurora' Preview Released

Microsoft announced on Monday that a "preview" of Windows Small Business Server codenamed "Aurora" is now available for download.

Aurora is designed for small businesses with less than 25 users to be their first server, according to Microsoft. In addition to providing backup and restore capabilities, ID management and security, as well as file and print sharing, Aurora will let users access the company network remotely via a Web browser.

The product is "based on Windows Server 2008 R2," according to Kevin Kean,
general manager for Microsoft's Windows Home and Small Business Servers, in a blog post. However, the We Got Served blog emphasizes that Aurora is based on Microsoft's Windows Home Server codenamed "Vail" solution, which is also available this week as a preview.

Supposedly, Vail is aimed more at the consumer market, according to the We Got Served blog, but the features in Vail and Aurora seem identical. Vail is more limited in terms of user capacity, as it supports up to 10 PCs maximum.

Microsoft is billing Aurora as a "bridge to the cloud" as it provides the option for users to add services, such as Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite offerings. In a video demo of Aurora, Michael Leworthy, a senior product manager for Windows Small Business Server product team, noted that Aurora users will be able to tap into Active Directory Federation ID Management Services to provide users with single sign-on access across local, on-premises and cross-premises networks.

Kean emphasized that Aurora comes with a software development kit that Microsoft's partners can use to further integrate services with the Aurora. The SDK provides help with using APIs and building add-ins for the Aurora server. It also includes templates for Visual Studio 2008 that help with add-in construction.

Add-ins apparently extend the functionality of Windows Home Server. They can be used with Launchpad, a "client-based user interface" found in Vail, according to a Microsoft blog on the topic.

"With Launchpad, we now have the ability to create end-to-end add-ins with user interfaces targeted at everyone in the home who uses a PC joined to home server," the blog states. "A typical example can be an add-in providing the ability for everyone in the home to sync a folder on their PC to home server, and then subsequently to the cloud."

Both Aurora and Vail are available as preview versions but aren't recommended for production environments. Microsoft is also readying Windows Small Business Server codenamed "7," which will support organizations with up to 75 users, although it's still available just as a beta test version.  

Those who joined the Microsoft Connect effort to test Windows Small Business Server can download Aurora here. Those who wish to sign up for that program can do so at the Microsoft Connect Web portal.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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