OK, I have to admit that I obviously completely missed the memo on this. Trust me, if I have then so have a ton of you….
Windows Server Essentials 2012 will allow you to migrate past 25 users and keep (almost) all of the toolsets you need. Taken directly from the Official SBS Blog:
Hi, I’m Cristian Molina, Lead Program Manager on the Windows Server
Essentials team, and today I want to share with you more information
around our growth story for moving past 25 users in Windows Server 2012 Essentials (Essentials).
of the major pieces of feedback about the previous version, Windows
Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, was that after a customer had
grown beyond the 25-user limit, they had to migrate to Windows Server
Standard. After the migration, key Windows SBS-specific features that
they had come to depend on (such as client backup, Remote Web Access,
and the Dashboard) were no longer available. We wanted to address this
issue in Windows Server 2012 Essentials, so now we enable customers to
do an in-place license transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard.
The process for performing the transition is documented on the TechNet page, Transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard.
Customers need to purchase a copy of Windows Server 2012 Standard, and
because Essentials does not have any client access licenses (CALs), they
will also need to purchase the appropriate number of Windows Server
2012 CALs for their environment (these can be either Per User or Per
Device CALs, but Per User CALs are more common). For example, if an
organization with 26 users is performing the transition, they will need
26 Windows Server 2012 Per User CALs to be license-compliant.
you have transitioned to Windows Server 2012 Standard, the Windows
Server 2012 Essentials limits are removed, including restrictions on
user accounts, number of devices, the Hyper-V role, and Active
Directory. Instead, you will be subject to the limits and restrictions
of Windows Server 2012 Standard. The Essentials features will still be
there with the exception of the media features, which no longer work due
to technical limitations. The removal of media functionality means that
media features in other parts of the Essentials experience will be
removed (for example, the ability to access media via Remote Web Access,
media settings in the Dashboard).
After an in-place license
transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard, the Windows Server 2012
Essentials features can support up to 75 user accounts and 75 devices.
Note that there are no restrictions placed on the number of users and
devices that can be added to a Windows Server 2012 Standard environment.
For the Essentials features to function properly, the Windows Server
2012 roles and the features they depend on must not be removed or
reconfigured, such as the Active Directory Domain Services role, the Web
Server role, or others. Our goal is for Essentials features to work
after the in-place transition for up to 75 user accounts and 75 devices.
We used this goal to help scope our testing effort as well as our
support statement. Customers can, of course, make any number of changes
to their systems, but we had to strike a balance here of enabling
customers to grow while also having a stable and supported system.
the event that you grow beyond 75 user accounts or 75 devices, or you
want to move to a different solution for specific pieces of Windows
Server 2012 Essentials functionality, the Essentials features can then
be turned off, which is also documented on the TechNet page. After the
Essentials features are turned off, it is not possible to turn them back
Windows Server 2012 Essentials enables
customers to grow beyond 25 users by doing an in-place license
transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard. After making this
transition, you will be able to continue using Essentials features with
the exception of media features. Essentials features are supported for
up to 75 users and 75 devices. If you grow beyond 75 or want to change
the configuration of the server, we recommend that you turn off
If you haven’t already, please download the beta and give us feedback via the Windows Server 2012 Beta Essentials forum. We’d love to hear from you!