In what we would call a pretty unexpected move, Microsoft has decided that they will be killing Windows Home Server after the current 2011 version. As a result of this, Microsoft will discontinue sales of the OS in 2013 with OEM support ending in 2025. What this means is that the price of home servers will likely go up significantly since Windows Home Server currently retails for $49.99 on Newegg.
Microsoft’s solution to killing Windows Home Server is to wind it’s features into Windows Server 2012 Essentials. This would not be as much of an issue unless you realize that Windows Server 2012 Essentials costs approximately $400. This means that the cost of building a home server goes up significantly, especially when you consider how many people have been buying Windows Home Server and installing it on extremely small form factor machines and happily spending very little on the hardware AND software to do so.
By winding the features of Windows Home Server into Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Microsoft is going to achieve exactly the opposite of what they would have hoped. Fewer people are going to buy the software and more people are going to end up pirating the operating system simply because the feature set that they once knew and loved has increased in price nearly ten fold. Furthermore, what it will end up doing is drive more people who have been using Windows in their home servers to shift over to either using Linux distros or pirated software like we stated before.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials is Microsoft’s way of preserving the features of Windows Home Server since there aren’t very many (if any) OEMs using Windows Home Server in their systems. The real truth is that the majority of people using Windows Home Server are those that build themselves tiny, silent home servers on the cheap. Since this appears to be a final decision on Microsoft’s part, we’re definitely interested to see if perhaps someone will step up and make a Linux replacement for Windows Home Server that functions just as well and for free.