A simpler version scheme with 4 different versions at all.
Today, Microsoft releases the next generation of its Server operating system Windows Server 2012.
Like the Windows 8 Client it builds upon the Windows NT 6.2 kernel and interacts over the same New User Interface, formerly known as Metro. And it shares the same cloud-centric focus, but not only by connecting to clloud services: Windows Server 2012 provides cloud services.
In principle, lots of features of Windows Server 2012 are incremental enhancements of its predecessor, i.e. it uses the Server Manager and the PowerShell from Server 2008R2, and extends on them. But other really new features could brake bones. A closer look on the new Hyper-V shows stuff that could disrupt the business of other companies, that focus on virtualization ...
Two Fully Featured Editions
There are just two fully featured major versions avaliable. Both, the Standard and the Datacenter edition, will support the same set of features and the same hardware limits. Both will require CALs for authenticated server access. Both will be licensed on a per-socket-pair basis. The only difference will be in virtualization rights.
Windows Server 2012 Standard
Standard edition can be run in up to two virtual machines (in addition to the host operating system)
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
Datacenter edition can be run in an unlimited number of virtual machines.
That means: Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Web, and HPC products are all replaced by Standard and Datacenter licenses. Standard licenses will be priced at $882, Datacenter licenses at $4,809.
Server 2012 Standard and Datacenter can handle up to 320 “logical processors,” or CPU cores and double the processing maximum for R2. Memory capacity is also doubled to a max of 4 terabytes. And the failover clustering capabilities of Server 2012 have been vastly expanded, supporting up to 64 cluster nodes—up from 16 in the previous release.
2 Limited Capability Editions
Essentials and Foundation are the two limited-capability versions, supporting fewer processor sockets and less RAM.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials
Essentials supports a large subset of Windows Server functionality for $425, but many features, including Active Directory and file server features, will be preconfigured and preinstalled. It will support up to 25 clients and will hereby replace Small Business Server Essentials and Small Business Server Standard.
Windows Server 2012 Foundation
Windows Server 2012 Foundation is even more restricted than Essentials, and will be restricted to cheap servers designed for the very smallest of businesses, supporting only a maximum of 15 clients.