Microsoft announced today that servers will soon be available with the Windows Server 2008 Foundation OS. Foundation is an inexpensive version of the Server 2008 OS, aimed at small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). The OS can do most of what Server 2008's other editions can do, but will be limited to 15 users, one physical processor, and 8GB RAM. Foundation will also lack Server 2008's virtualization capabilities.

Chris Phillips, Microsoft's general manager of Windows Server and Solutions, said the new OS was created based on input about what smaller businesses need. He said many SMBs don't even have servers right now, but they have many of the same IT needs as bigger companies. He said Foundation will appear on sub-$1,000 server soon to be offered from major vendors.

Removing virtualization struck me as an odd move, with Hyper-V server available as a free product, but Phillips said virtualization creates a complexity issue and SMBs are unlikely to use it. He also said Microsoft's SMB partners and customers didn't ask for virtualization.

Phillips said Foundation can be upgraded to other editions of Server 2008, such as Small Business Server or Standard. For now the upgrade will require installation media, but in the future it will be possible to upgrade from Foundation without media. Phillips also said Foundation will get the upgrade to Server 2008 R2 at the same time as other editions.

Foundation will only be available with hardware sold through OEMs and other hardware channels. For more information, see the official announcement or visit the Server 2008 Foundation site.

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