Windows Server 2008 Foundation: What is it and Who is it for?

Microsoft has officially announced Windows Server 2008 Foundation. This is an entry-level version of Server 2008 geared toward a very specific niche in the small business world.

Well … unless you got to this blog post by Googling “is Windows Server 2008 Foundation right for me” then probably not. If you are reading this you are probably an IT pro or an IT pro in the making, which means you may have little use for this already installed and limited server OS. In fact bloggers (and blog commenters) are hating on Windows Server 2008 Foundation all over the internet.

OK naysayers, it’s not your cup of tea. You suggest using a Linux or Lotus product instead. But you need to realize that if you are comfortable with the word Linux then you are not the target for this product. I say that Microsoft must have made it for a reason – but who is it for?

Before we dive into who would benefit from Windows Server 2008 Foundation, let’s talk a little about what it is.

This new version of Server 2008 is designed for a small business with 15 people or less. It can be described as being ‘lower’ than Windows Small Business Server in the Windows Server pecking order.

Windows Server 2008 Foundation is not available as software alone. It will only be available preinstalled on new servers that will go on sale in a few months. These machines can presumably cost $1000 or less with the OS included.

Microsoft has said that Server 2008 Foundation is easily upgradable to higher versions of Windows Server. However, we have been given little information about what this upgrade process will be like. Will you pay an adjusted price for the new server software? What about Client Access Licenses? Windows Server 2008 Foundation doesn’t use CALs (instead one license of the OS allows you up to 15 users).

Some functions of Windows Server 2008 Foundation are:

  • File sharing
  • Print sharing
  • Remote access
  • Web service for intranets and extranets
  • Running business applications (anything that will run on Server 2008 Standard will run on Foundation)
  • Active Directory

For more information about what it can and cannot do see Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 Foundation information page.

So who is Windows Server 2008 Foundation for?

It is for a small business that:

  • Has less than 15 people (and will not grow above that number soon)
  • Is not currently using a server (but needs one)
  • Has no dedicated ‘IT Guy/Gal’
  • Is willing to stick with Microsoft and upgrade to a more robust Server product when the time comes
  • Wants a ‘genuine’ Windows Server product for a low cost
  • Needs to add data organization, security, and remote access

When I read the above list a bell goes off in my head that says nonprofit.  Many such organizations have limited funds and resources for a ‘real’ network infrastructure. In fact Microsoft themselves said that, through the end of September, it will donate a portion of its revenue from Windows Server Foundation to and, two groups that help bring technology to nonprofit organizations.

So it looks like there is a niche out there for Windows Server 2008 Foundation. Very small businesses or not for profit organizations with little time or money for technology can greatly benefit from this new product. The real test comes 4 or 5 months from now when the first of these machines are implemented and running …


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