It's official.  Essentials 2007 is no longer going to be part of the next release of Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008), currently code named Cougar.

Dave Mackie quotes an internal Microsoft source as saying:

Q: Why did you decide not to include System Center Essentials in SBS 2008? A: We are optimizing SBS for its core customers, small businesses with up to 50 desktops. The management tools included in SBS 2008 are optimized to meet this segment's needs. We continue to do a lot of research and collect a great deal of small business customer and partner input throughout their product development decisions. Our goal is to integrate the right technologies at the right price, in a timely manner. System Center Essentials is a great product and it works with SBS. Should customers desire System Center Essentials functionality, it will be supported to run on the SBS network. Or, in some cases partners may use it to manage multiple instances of SBS across multiple clients.

There are other features no longer in the release, but Essentials 2007 will be sorely missed.

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