Windows Home Server takes its final bow, Windows Server 2012 Essentials passes the (pricey) casting call

Tucked away amongst Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 version plans is a bomb for media server PC fans: Windows Home Server is going away. Although the platform was already in something of a comatose state after HP dropped its MediaSmart servers and left the OS without a major vendor to champion the cause, an FAQ reveals the stand-alone build is going away as well. Windows Server 2012 Essentials is taking its place and will handle both media server as well as small business server duties in one package. That's all well and good, except that Essentials is currently priced at $425 -- almost 10 times the typical $50 street price of Windows Home Server. We've reached out to Microsoft to verify whether or not that's the price a media server vendor or enthusiastic media PC lover will pay. Hopefully, it isn't; we'll have until the end of 2013 to buy a stand-alone copy of Windows Home Server (and a far-flung 2025 for very conservative OEMs), but the switch of focus may lead some fans of networked media sharing to drift elsewhere.