Microsoft has formally announced the server editions of Windows 8, and it's not good news for fans of Windows Home Server.

First released back in 2007 and last updated in April 2011, Windows Home Server was designed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) looking to create home- and small-office friendly fileservers. As well as centralised backup functionality, the system includes media streaming via the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) protocol and remote access capabilities.

Sadly, the launch of Windows 8 will see Windows Home Server buried. According to documentation released by Microsoft this week, the features of Windows Home Server are to be subsumed into the Windows Server 2012 Essentials product, with Home Server disappearing as a distinct product.

'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.'

This doesn't mean that Windows Home Server will be disappearing immediately, however: the company has confirmed that the product will be available until the end of 2013, while OEMs looking to build embedded systems around it will have to option of buying Windows Home Server 2011 licences through to the end of 2025 - but with Microsoft no longer releasing upgrades and feature enhancements, it's unlikely that many will take advantage of this option.

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.

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