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Microsoft kicks off next era of small business software

Server bundles designed for companies with more than 50 PCs

By , Network World
November 12, 2008 04:14 PM ET

Network World - Microsoft Wednesday released an updated bundle of infrastructure servers for small business and its first-ever offering tailored to midsized businesses, and said the two would evolve alongside the company's software-plus-services strategy.

Microsoft also introduced new financing plans in response to the sagging economy.

Under the marketing banner of Windows Essential Server Solutions (WESS), Microsoft released Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008, its first-ever bundle for midsized businesses, and Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008, which has evolved over the past 12 years.

The WESS offerings bundle popular IT software in order to ease rollout and management burdens for small and midsized companies.

The two bundles represent Microsoft's best attempt to date to serve the needs of businesses that have up to 300 PCs. WESS offers small businesses for the first-time options to deploy multiple servers, mobile options, a platform for small companies to run business applications and the first integration between small business infrastructure and Microsoft's online services as part of its software-plus-services model

That services integration will mark the evolution of the WESS bundles going forward, according to Microsoft.

"We have built extensibility into our products so a developer or Microsoft can write services that will interact with the servers on the ground," says Steven VanRoekel, senior director of the Windows Server solutions group. "As those products evolve over time, you will see that same evolution as well for small and medium sized businesses."

Microsoft this year alone has spent $6.5 billion on "support, services and solutions for the SMB space," according to CEO Steve Ballmer, who appeared on a Webcast to announce SBS 2008 and EBS 2008.

The two servers complete Microsoft's wave of IT infrastructure software based on Windows Server 2008, which shipped earlier this year. Microsoft said at its Partner Conference in July that the bundles would ship Nov. 12 and it hit that mark.

SBS 2008 includes Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, SharePoint Services 3.0 (not the full SharePoint Server), Windows Server Update Services 3.0, and a 120-day trial subscription to Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Windows Live OneCare for Server. It also supports Terminal Services access to applications.

The bundle also adds integration with Office Live Small Business to support the creation of basic Web sites, online document sharing via SharePoint and an introduction to Microsoft's online advertising platform.

SBS 2008 is designed for companies with up to 75 PCs, and comes in both a Standard and Premium version. The standard version runs only on 64-bit hardware.

The premium addition of SBS 2008, which adds a 32-bit platform option, includes a database and for the first time lets users run the software on two servers. The second server runs Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2005 or 2008 to support business applications.

In SBS 2008, Microsoft has added tools to manage domain names and data folders, a new management console that monitors across servers and clients, customized and remotely available reports, and block-based server protection to speed backups.

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