Microsoft unveils plans for Windows Small Business Server

* Roadmap for Windows Small Business Server

In the last two issues, I talked about two beta products Microsoft released at the end of August: the first release candidate for Windows Server 2003 R2 and the first beta of the new Windows file system (WinFS). At the end of August, Microsoft also released a roadmap for Windows Small Business Server (SBS).

SBS is a bundle of several different server-based products. Included in the SBS 2003 versions are Windows Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services, SQL Server 2000, Exchange Server 2003 and ISA Server 2000. SBS comes in two versions (Standard and Premium) each with a different mix of services, but both based on Windows Server 2003.

Since there's a Release 2 of Windows Server 2003 (Win 2003 R2) due out by year-end, it follows that there'll be an R2 release of SBS also. This will follow a few months behind the Win 2003 R2 release. Why? I don't know. There doesn't appear to be any technical reason for doing so. I expect it's a marketing decision. But whether the decision was made so that more marketing resources could be devoted to each shipment in turn, or whether marketing thought that the initial R2 shipment should be allowed to "settle" before inflicting it on Small Business customers is anybody's guess. This R2 version of SBS will also include upgrades to the SQL Server, Sharepoint Server and Exchange server components.

Microsoft has also committed to rolling out a version of SBS based on the upcoming Longhorn server release, now scheduled for late next year. Longhorn SBS should follow sometime in mid 2007. For those of you in a speculating mood, you might remember that in the last issue I mentioned that the new WinFS was also scheduled to ship in mid 2007. Would Microsoft risk the first shipment of a new file system with its small business product? You might speculate on that, but I wouldn't want to.

SBS is generally targeted at really small enterprises (or small self-contained organizations within larger enterprises) with no more than 50 client PCs. Microsoft believes, though, that there's a market for a bundled system for organizations with between 50 and 250 clients and the company is about to roll out a package aimed squarely at that target. Dubbed the Windows Midmarket Server and code named Centro, it was announced last week at the Microsoft Business Summit.

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