• United States

Microsoft focusing on small business

Mar 20, 20063 mins
ComputersMicrosoftMicrosoft Exchange

During Microsoft’s first summit for its small-business customers last week, the company showed off the forthcoming upgrade to its Small Business Server 2003 that includes new health and maintenance tools.

This summer Microsoft plans to ship Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 Release 2, which includes incremental upgrades to the 8-year-old platform.

The new SBS 2003 release is a bundle of Microsoft servers, desktop applications and design tools. The Standard Edition, which is priced at $599, includes Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003, along with five client access licenses. The Premium Edition, which is priced at $1,500, adds SQL Server 2005, Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 and FrontPage 2003.

With Release 2, Microsoft is adding Green Check, a feature on the GUI console that checks the server and all connected desktops. A green check mark shows users that patches and other software are up-to-date. A yellow check mark indicates patches and updates are needed and the server provides pointers to those resources. The Green Check feature also provides users with a daily e-mail updating the status of the server.

“If you see the green check you know that everything is good,” says Steven VanRoekel, senior director of Microsoft’s Windows Server Solutions team.

In addition, Microsoft is increasing the mailbox limits on Release 2 from 16GB to 75GB. Microsoft also will update the database component by replacing the current SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition with SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition.

“This is a minor upgrade that gets users on to SQL Server 2005,” says Peter Pawlak, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft: “The next [upgrade] is the big one, and that will be pretty important.” Pawlak says word is that the platform will be 64-bit only. “There will be some interesting questions around how customers get from here to there. Microsoft is coming up with some new tools to help users make that transition,” he says.

Release 2 is expected to be followed next year by another release code-named Cougar, which will make Longhorn Server the foundation of SBS and more tightly integrate it with Office 2007 and the Vista client operating system.

To help customers upgrading to Release 2, the company says Microsoft Financing will lower its minimum transaction deal from $10,000 to $3,000 and offer a 36-month loan option and a 90-day deferred payment promotion.

Microsoft has yet to set pricing on Release 2, but users with Software Assurance maintenance will get the update as part of their contracts.

The Microsoft Small Business Summit attracted 500 users to a live event last week, according to Microsoft, and another 10,000 to a series of Webcasts.