Executive Summary:
Windows Server 2008 Foundation is the new member of the Windows Server 2008 family intended for small businesses; it will be available only preinstalled on servers from OEMs. Windows Server Foundation provides network infrastructure services such as Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, and Terminal Services. Window Server Foundations doesn't include built-in virtualization, can support a maximum of 15 concurrent users, and is available only in a 64-bit version.


Microsoft is typically fairly predictable, but sometimes the company is able to pull a few surprises out of the old hat. One of those surprises was the April 1 announcement of Windows Server 2008 Foundation. And despite the date of the announcement, this product is no joke. You can find all the details on Microsoft's website at . In this column I'll address some of the top questions about this new member of the Windows Server family.

1. Is Windows Server 2008 Foundation part of the SBS Family?—No, Windows Server Foundation isn't a part of the Windows Small Business Server (SBS) family. It's part of the Windows Server 2008 product line. Foundation Server Foundation doesn't include integrated email and other services, as SBS does. Instead, it provides basic network infrastructure services.

2. Isn't this just a version of Windows Server designed to compete with Linux?—Not really. Although Windows Server Foundation provides an alternative to Linux servers, it's primarily designed as a low-cost option for small businesses that don't already have a server.

3. Is Windows Server Foundation basically the same thing as Windows Home Server?—No. First, realize that Windows Home Server isn't licensed for business use. Next, although Windows Home Server possesses a nice integrated backup component, it can't act as an Active Directory (AD) domain controller. Windows Server Foundation is licensed specifically for business use. It doesn't have the integrated client backup found in Windows Home Server, but it can act as an AD domain controller, and you can manage your network clients via Group Policy.

4. What are the main features in Windows Server Foundation?—Windows Server Foundation provides networking infrastructure support for functions such as DHCP and DNS. It can function as an AD domain controller as well as supplying file and print sharing services. Like a typical Windows server, it can also run line-of-business applications and server products such as Microsoft SQL Server. In addition, it can run Microsoft IIS and provide remote access and Terminal Services.

5. What are the main limitations in Windows Server Foundation?—Without a doubt, the most important missing feature is built-in support for virtualization: Windows Server Foundation doesn't include Hyper-V, Microsoft's server virtualization technology. Also, because it's targeted at small businesses, Windows Server Foundation supports a maximum of 15 concurrent users. It runs only on single-socket systems and can access a maximum of 8GB of RAM.

6. Are there 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Server Foundation?—No. Windows Server Foundation is Microsoft's first 64-bit-only version of Windows Server. There is no 32-bit version of Windows Server Foundation.

7. Is there a Server Core installation option?—No, Windows Server Foundation doesn't have a Server Core installation mode. However, it does support all of the roles and features found in the Windows Server 2008 Standard edition, such as the ability to use the File Services and Print Services roles and the ability to add the Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption and Windows PowerShell scripting features.

8. Will there be support for international versions of Windows Server Foundation?—Microsoft will market Windows Server Foundation in 40 different countries. Like the other Windows Server 2008 editions, Windows Server Foundation will be available in multiple localized versions. Initially, Windows Server Foundation will be available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.

9. How do you buy Windows Server Foundation?—Windows Server Foundation is not sold as a standalone product. It's available only from OEM hardware vendors—it comes preinstalled on new servers. Manufacturers that offer Windows Server 2008 Foundation server bundles include Dell, HP, and IBM. The starting cost for these bundled systems is expected to be under $1,000.

10. Can you upgrade from Windows Server 2008 Foundation to other editions of Windows Server 2008?—Yes. Windows Server 2008 can be upgraded to any of the other Windows Server 2008 editions and Microsoft is expected to provide upgrade licensing discounts.