In the good old days of the channel there seemed to be a product launch every other week at a plush venue with some half-decent food.
These days the large launches are special because of their rarity, but they still have the ability to create excitement.
Most of the focus in the channel is not so much on the product itself but on the implications it might have in creating a demand for other services.
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Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 launch is no different, because not only is there a straight upgrade angle from Windows 2000 and 2003 products, there should be a hardware purchase as well.
"Enterprises do not tie software to hardware, but as you move down the scale you get a different picture and hardware refresh," said a Microsoft spokesman.
Add to that the bundling of Hyper-V virtualisation software, and the ripples that are caused by the splash of Server 2008 should spread widely across the industry.
Increasingly, one of the first signs that there is going to be a market for a software product is the number of pre-launch trial downloads, which in the case of Server 2008 ran to an impressive 150,000.
The vendor has also worked hard to support pre-launch, making sure that its channel and ISVs are given the information they need to make a sale when the time comes.
So, given all the preparation and numerous downloads, the question resellers will want an answer to is what is all the fuss about?
Server 2003 was a step up from 2000 and for many customers it has been a stable application that they are happy to continue running their business on. Getting them to move away from that is going to be a challenge in some cases.
Aside from virtualisation, the benefits that Microsoft is emphasising are the additions introduced in response to demand from customers.
"Windows Server 2003 is a good product. It has been around for five years and does what it says on the tin. But there were specific things that people wanted, and they wanted it to be cheaper and easier to run," said Microsoft.
One of the changes is the ability to offer hosted applications, ensuring that service level agreements can be met more easily.
Another innovation is the user interface. In the past, the interface has resembled other Microsoft desktop applications. But there will be an option with the 2008 product to have a specific Server Core desktop that does not have any of the additional stuff that can be a distraction for some users.
The other main area that feedback suggested people needed help with was the upgrade process – they did not want to rip and replace what they already had.
Resellers will be attracted by the extent of the vendor’s range. The low-end starts with the home server package, rising to enterprise level.
From a reseller perspective, one of the major advantages of this product being a Microsoft launch is that not only will expectations be high – and the pre-launch lessons seem to have been learnt from Vista – other vendors will be promoting it as well.
For those manufacturers that can benefit from hardware and infrastructure upgrades, a launch like Windows Server 2008 is always something that can lead to extra sales and as a result add to the momentum in the channel.
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