For many dental offices, Windows Server Essentials is the perfect server operating system. This is because most dental offices have less than 25 users or 50 devices which is the limiting factor of Windows Server Essentials 2012 and 2016. Why then does Henry Schein inform its users that Dentrix does not support Windows Server Essentials?
Windows Server Essentials retails for $559 (current Windows Server 2016 Essentials) and can cost even less when purchased with your server. However Dentrix is forcing dental offices to upgrade to Windows Server Standard* 2016 as oppose to Essentials. What does that mean for your dental practice? It means the cost increases dramatically! The retail cost of Windows Server 2016 Standard is $1,209.00 (As of 3/27/2018) this price includes 5 Client Access License (CAL) because unlike Essentials, Windows Server Standard also requires a license for each client. Client can be defined as each user or each device that connects to the server. This means that if you have 10 computers and you are licensing each device you would have to purchase Windows Server 2016 Standard with 10 Client Access License at a cost of $1,389.00. Dentrix is forcing 5 computer/user offices to pay $650 in licensing alone (no added benefit) and offices with 10 computer/user over $830 more (assuming retail prices).
Can Dentrix be installed and work in a Windows Server 2016 Essentials server? Well by my experience yes, but not without some minor modifications. Windows Server Essentials is a license but it also includes a Windows Server Essentials component that is usually enabled by default with a Windows Server Essentials license. However this component can be completely removed without affecting your license. So let’s remove the component and call Dentrix support to install Dentrix now, right? Well not really. Dentrix will require the doctor/owner to sign a waiver that they are installing Dentrix on a non supported device and things may not work properly. Well, that is not good. Unfortunately what this means is that if you have any issue, whether or not related to Windows Server Essentials they can tell you its probably because the device is unsupported. (By the way, in my experience, it depends on the tech, some will help you, but some will see the Essentials flag and decide that’s enough for them to stop helping you.)
Is the conclusion that Henry Schein is evil or trying to make Microsoft more profit or just wants to make doctors pay out more money… no… I personally don’t think so. There is a Technical reason behind this. The component that Windows Essentials installs uses a Framework from Direct Access to make its dashboard work, which shares the 6602 port that Dentrix also uses. However I would say Dentrix is choosing the easy way out, by simply saying we won’t support Windows Server Essentials instead of looking for a way around it. Such as removing the component on the server or changing their code to use another port. If you multiply $700 by the number of doctors using Dentrix on Windows Servers, I’d say Henry Schein is costing dental offices millions, by forcing them to use Windows Server Standard.
The above was written by an OCS Inc senior tech with over 10 years of experience in dental IT. While it is all written based on his experience all interpretations, comments, as it relates to Dentrix and Henry Schein are his opinion only.