This video will look at the features and functionality that is available in the 4 editions of Windows Server 2012. The video covers the basic features and licenses for each edition of Windows Server 2012 so that you can make the correct decision of which Windows Server 2012 edition to purchase.
Windows 2012 Editions
Windows 2012 comes in 4 editions, reduced from 7 in Windows Server 2012. These are Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. If you compare these to the Windows Server 2008 editions, there is a direct equivalent edition from Foundation to Foundation and Datacenter to Datacenter. The Windows Server 2012 Essentials edition feature wise is most equivalent to the Standard and Web edition of Windows Server 2008. The Standard Edition is equivalent to the enterprise edition of Windows Server 2008.
Itanium and 32bit support has been dropped in Windows Server 2012. There is no longer a separate Itanium edition and 32bit editions. The HPC (High Performance Computing) Server edition has also been dropped, but this can be downloaded and installed as a free optional extra for the Standard and Datacenter edition.
One of the major differences between Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 is that you can switch between the full GUI interface and the core interface. Previously in Windows Server 2008, the only way that you could achieve this was to reinstall the operating system. This means you could essentially setup the operating system using the full GUI interface which is a lot easier than using the command line and remove the full core when you have finished configuring the server. If you were using the core interface, you could also add the full GUI interface in later on if you realized that you need additional features, for example you need to use Remote Desktop Services.
The Foundation edition is the cheapest of the Windows Server 2012 editions and thus has the least amount of features. It is targeted toward the small business and thus includes basic file and printing services. The install is limited to 15 users and, unlike the other editions of Windows Server, it defaults to a simple dashboard rather than the server manager. The dashboard is a number of quick links to commonly used configuration options. The last difference is that the install requires a physical computer and a network card to be present. You cannot install Foundation edition into a virtual machine or a computer that does not have a working network card and a device driver available for that network card during the install.
Essentials edition is the same feature wise as the Foundation edition. The main difference between the two is that Essentials supports 25 users rather than 15 users. It can also be installed on a virtual machine and defaults to Server Manager rather than the dashboard found in the Foundation edition.
The Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2012 contains all the features of Windows. The two differences between the 2 editions is that the standard edition supports 2 virtual instances while the Datacenter edition supports any number of virtual instances and Datacenter is not available via retail channels. In this case, a virtual instance means that you can run an additional virtual copy of Windows Server 2012 at no extra cost. For example, you could run 2 standard Virtual Windows Server 2012 instances with a standard Windows Server 2012 license. When both virtual instances are in use, the physical install of Windows Server 2012 standard can only be used to manage the server. This is covered in more detail in the Windows Server 2012 licensing video.
The biggest change between the Standard/Datacenter and Foundation/Essentials edition is the way users are licensed. Both the Standard/Datacenter editions do not allow users to use the server unless additional licenses called CALS (Client Access License) are purchased. CAL’s are covered in more detail in a later video.
Windows Server 2012 limits
There are a number of different limitations of Windows Server 2012 depending on which edition you purchase.
CPU: Foundation supports 1 CPU, Essentials 2 and Standard/Datacenter support 64. The CPUs can have any number of cores.
RAM: Foundation 32GB, Essentials 64GB and Standard/Datacenter 64TB.
Max Users: Foundation 15 users, Essentials 25 users and Standard/Datacenter is only limited by how many CALs (Client Access Licenses) that you purchase.
RRAS: Routing and Remote Access is limited to 50 connections on Foundation, 250 on Essentials and unlimited amount on Standard/Datacenter.
Active Directory Domain Services: Foundation and Essentials can only be used as a Domain Controller in the Root domain. Standard/Datacenter have no limitations.
Active Directory Certificate Services: Foundation and Essentials can only be used as Certificate Authorities, the other components of Certificate Services is not supported. Standard/Datacenter editions have no limitations on how they can be used.
Hyper V/Server core: These are not available on Foundation and Essentials but are available on Standard/DataCenter.
File Services Limits: Foundation and Essentials are limited to 1 Standalone DFS (Distributed File System) while the Standard/Datacenter editions can have an unlimited number. DFS allows multiple shares to be combined from multiple locations to be seen by the user as the one share. Foundation and Essentials do not support storing DFS in Active Directory which provides redundancy if the server holding the DFS were to fail.
“Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Exam Ref 70-410” pg 1-6