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Server 2012 Essentials - Changes and Restrictions compared with Server 2008 R2

    Question

  • I have recently installed a trial of Server 2012 Essentials for our small home-based business. This replaces our Server 2008 R2 OS that we finally
    ditched as it became impossible to save any MS Office documents on it, and whilst this is a known problem, nobody seems to know how to resolve it??

    Anyhow, Server 2012 is working well, and is much faster than 2008 R2. Better still it also allows us to save our Word documents, but I have some queries:

    Firstly, we had always routed our internet access through the server, using Network Address Translation to translate between our LAN address range
    (192.168.0.xx) and our BT Router (192.168.1.xx).

    Am I right in thinking that NAT is not available in Server 2012 Essentials? If so, is NAT available in 2012 Standard? (At present we have just connected
    the router to our network switch. Is this now the recommended configuration?)

    Secondly, we previously installed a copy of our accounts programme (Sage Line 50) on the server, as some operations such as year-end would not operate
    reliably across the network. We have installed this on Server 2012 essentials, but it will not run. However, it seems to run on a trial of 2012 Standard that
    my son is running on his HP Micro Server.

    (I have also installed and run our Retrospect backup programme onto 2012 Essentials without any difficulties.)

    Is there any restriction on installing and running user applications such as accounting programmes on Server 2012 Essentials?

    If I wanted to upgrade to 2012 Standard would I need to reinstall the OS, or could I simply add a new licence number (as in Windows 7)?

    Thirdly, I am interested in adding an HP Micro Server to the network to increase storage capacity and to provide failover protection. Presumably we
    will need a separate licence for Storage Server, or is this included in any of the Server 2012 packages?

    I apologise for asking such simple questions, but it is difficult to find information about server operating systems in a language that us non-techies
    can understand!

    Any advice would be very gratefully received.

    Kind regards

    Nigel.


    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 2:23 PM

Answers

  • Hi,

    there is no reason to not use the router directly connected to the network switch. Reduces potential sources of connectivity trouble.

    No domain controller should be used as application server for 3rd party applications due to effects for system security, stability and in some cases functionality. I don't know your application, but you should always do better with setting up a separate computer or virtual machine (given a OS license is available) to run such stuff.

    For license upgrade there exists in-place license transition. However I'm not sure, if this works from a trial version of Server Essentials to a retail version.

    Storage server needs a separate license. Since that is an OEM product, the purchase is usually done with hardware.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 3:00 PM
  • Hi Nigel,

    Lot's going on here ... let me see what I can figure out for you:

    • Am I right in thinking that NAT is not available in Server 2012 Essentials? If so, is NAT available in 2012 Standard? (At present we have just connected the router to our network switch. Is this now the recommended configuration?)

    It looks like under the Remote Access role, there's a sub-role called Routing which might provide the functionality you're looking for. To add the role, open Explorer, right-click Computer -> Manage. Add Role and Features -> Next -> Next and you'll see the Remote Access role listed there. Open that up and check Routing. I haven't tested it myself, but that could work for you.

    • Secondly, we previously installed a copy of our accounts programme (Sage Line 50) on the server, as some operations such as year-end would not operate reliably across the network. We have installed this on Server 2012 essentials, but it will not run. However, it seems to run on a trial of 2012 Standard that my son is running on his HP Micro Server. (I have also installed and run our Retrospect backup programme onto 2012 Essentials without any difficulties.) Is there any restriction on installing and running user applications such as accounting programmes on Server 2012 Essentials?

    There shouldn't any restrictions that I can think of but I would speak to the application vendor / technical support about compatibility with WSE 2012. Maybe they can provide some tips when having issues in a non-"Standard" SKU of WSE 2012?

    • If I wanted to upgrade to 2012 Standard would I need to reinstall the OS, or could I simply add a new licence number (as in Windows 7)?

    It's my understanding that applying a Windows Server 2012 Standard key to a Windows Server Essentials 2012 server will unlock certain restrictions like the 25 user limit in WSE 2012. How that affects other WSE 2012 specific components I don't know.

    • Thirdly, I am interested in adding an HP Micro Server to the network to increase storage capacity and to provide failover protection. Presumably we will need a separate licence for Storage Server, or is this included in any of the Server 2012 packages?

    My guess is that you would need an additional license. However, if you were to do some sort of Windows 2012 Standard Server running Hyper-V, I think you get to host two server instances as a part of that license. I think that it's possible you could host a WSE 2012 server as your DC and possibly a Storage Server as well? If that's doable that could save you some time or money but possible makes things very complicated for your environment. Not completely sure but might be worth some research.

    HTH - Cheers!

    - JJ

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 3:02 PM
  • What version of office?

    Did you disable rss/toe and anything else on the network card that normally I stomp on because it never works like they say it works?

    Are you saving as a docx rather than a doc?

    If older versions of Office make sure you remove the office file validation additional update as that will indeed cause slow down of opening files - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2570623

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:05 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    there is no reason to not use the router directly connected to the network switch. Reduces potential sources of connectivity trouble.

    No domain controller should be used as application server for 3rd party applications due to effects for system security, stability and in some cases functionality. I don't know your application, but you should always do better with setting up a separate computer or virtual machine (given a OS license is available) to run such stuff.

    For license upgrade there exists in-place license transition. However I'm not sure, if this works from a trial version of Server Essentials to a retail version.

    Storage server needs a separate license. Since that is an OEM product, the purchase is usually done with hardware.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 3:00 PM
  • Hi Nigel,

    Lot's going on here ... let me see what I can figure out for you:

    • Am I right in thinking that NAT is not available in Server 2012 Essentials? If so, is NAT available in 2012 Standard? (At present we have just connected the router to our network switch. Is this now the recommended configuration?)

    It looks like under the Remote Access role, there's a sub-role called Routing which might provide the functionality you're looking for. To add the role, open Explorer, right-click Computer -> Manage. Add Role and Features -> Next -> Next and you'll see the Remote Access role listed there. Open that up and check Routing. I haven't tested it myself, but that could work for you.

    • Secondly, we previously installed a copy of our accounts programme (Sage Line 50) on the server, as some operations such as year-end would not operate reliably across the network. We have installed this on Server 2012 essentials, but it will not run. However, it seems to run on a trial of 2012 Standard that my son is running on his HP Micro Server. (I have also installed and run our Retrospect backup programme onto 2012 Essentials without any difficulties.) Is there any restriction on installing and running user applications such as accounting programmes on Server 2012 Essentials?

    There shouldn't any restrictions that I can think of but I would speak to the application vendor / technical support about compatibility with WSE 2012. Maybe they can provide some tips when having issues in a non-"Standard" SKU of WSE 2012?

    • If I wanted to upgrade to 2012 Standard would I need to reinstall the OS, or could I simply add a new licence number (as in Windows 7)?

    It's my understanding that applying a Windows Server 2012 Standard key to a Windows Server Essentials 2012 server will unlock certain restrictions like the 25 user limit in WSE 2012. How that affects other WSE 2012 specific components I don't know.

    • Thirdly, I am interested in adding an HP Micro Server to the network to increase storage capacity and to provide failover protection. Presumably we will need a separate licence for Storage Server, or is this included in any of the Server 2012 packages?

    My guess is that you would need an additional license. However, if you were to do some sort of Windows 2012 Standard Server running Hyper-V, I think you get to host two server instances as a part of that license. I think that it's possible you could host a WSE 2012 server as your DC and possibly a Storage Server as well? If that's doable that could save you some time or money but possible makes things very complicated for your environment. Not completely sure but might be worth some research.

    HTH - Cheers!

    - JJ

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 3:02 PM
  • Many thanks Jim and Olaf for your help and advice.

    Clearly I need to do some more research, especially on the subject of running virtual machines. 

    I had thought that Essentials would not run VM's, but I was probably thinking of Foundation.

    I am very pleased with 2012 so far, but I just need to resolve these problems.

    Since posting my question I have tried runing the Sage Line 50 programme in 'compatibility mode', using both Windows 7 and Xp SP3, but the troubleshooter reports that it is an 'incompatible programme'. (It works well on Windows 7 x64.)

    I will report back when I know more.

    Kind regards,

    Nigel.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 4:51 PM
  • "This replaces our Server 2008 R2 OS that we finally
    ditched as it became impossible to save any MS Office documents on it,
    and whilst this is a known problem, nobody seems to know how to resolve
    it??"
     
    Not that I'm aware of?  What known issue are you referring to, can you
    provide links to where this is supposedly a known issue as I have lots
    of 2008 r2 servers where I save office files on them?
     
    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:04 PM
  • Usually these problems accessing file shares are dependend from outdated network drivers on the server or issues with the TCP Offload features, sometimes also the virus scanners on client and server are involved.

    But not really anything which makes Windows Server 2008 R2 in general unusable I would think.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:15 PM
  • "This replaces our Server 2008 R2 OS that we finally
    ditched as it became impossible to save any MS Office documents on it,
    and whilst this is a known problem, nobody seems to know how to resolve
    it??"
    What known issue are you referring to, can you
    provide links to where this is supposedly a known issue as I have lots
    of 2008 r2 servers where I save office files on them? "

    The issue is one where MS Office files cannot be saved to the server. Firstly, the files are very slow to open, taking perhaps ten seconds or longer to open a typical 150 KB Word file over a gigabit network.

    When you try to save the file there is a long pause, the app sometimes reports that it is 'not responding', a green bar graph display shows file saving progress, and after thirty seconds or so an error message appears saying " "X:\folder\letter.doc (etc) is currently in use. Try again later."

    If we try 'File, Save As', the file is saved with zero bytes file length, and predictably, is completely blank when opened.

    The same files can be saved to a local drive without any problem, and can then be copied to the original network folder without any error messages or conflicts, so the files are not locked.

    Interestingly, other applications (such as Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop and In Design) work normally, except when creating a PDF file from an Office application. I could also save to other computers across the same network without any problems.

    A search online for " *.doc is currently in use. Try again later. " will bring up numerous examples, but nothing in the way of a definite answer. Oddly enough, these are not specific to any particular OS (affecting Server 2003 and 2008 with Windows Xp, Vista and 7 clients), but seem to be more prevalent with Office 2007 and 2010.

    This is no longer a problem for us as we have moved on to 2012, but if anyone has an answer I am sure a lot of people out there would love to hear it.

    Nigel.


    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:56 PM
  • What version of office?

    Did you disable rss/toe and anything else on the network card that normally I stomp on because it never works like they say it works?

    Are you saving as a docx rather than a doc?

    If older versions of Office make sure you remove the office file validation additional update as that will indeed cause slow down of opening files - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2570623

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:05 PM
  • I was using Office 2007, but two of the workstations were still using Office 2003 and suffered the same problems. It didn't seem to matter whether we saved files as *.doc, *.docx, *.xls, *.xlsx, etc.

    I said above, Adobe Photoshop worked well with much much bigger files, and Adobe Acrobat worked well unless creating Acrobta files from Office doccuments. We were also able to save files to other workstations across the network.

    Nigel.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:45 PM
  • Thank you Susan.

    It is too late for me to try anything further with Server 2008R2, (I am very happy with 2012), but I am grateful for your advice abaout disabling RSS/TOE as that has caused us problems from time to time.

    Best regards,

    Nigel.

    Monday, March 04, 2013 9:02 AM