Earlier today Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2012 Essentials has reached Release Candidate status.  To get your hands on this latest version, head over to the Microsoft Download Center.

Some of the changes from the prior version are as follows:

  • 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.

The obvious missing component that has been requested by various groups interested in Essentials is the continued missing Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) component.  I do find it quite amazing, however, the speed at which Essentials has been brought to this point.

As a side note to the MS announcement title as “Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Essentials”, one has to wonder if this is

  • Poor English?
  • An announcement of Windows Server 2012?
  • The NEW new English version?
  • The “Essential” Release candidate vs. an un-essential version?
  • or ??

At least I have an excuse for my bad eNGLISH: I is an en-gi-neer!

[box type="info"]More: Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Essentials [/box]