Microsoft will use its integration abilities as a way to strengthen its hold on smaller accounts when it formally rolls out two versions of its Windows Small Business Server 2003 at its annual partner conference in New Orleans next week.
With the upcoming Standard and Premium Editions of the product, the company has technically stitched together a collection of its core server applications and its server operating system, Windows Server 2003, in a way that helps smaller users get core pieces of its IT infrastructure up more quickly.
Company officials believe this tighter integration can serve as a foundation for smaller companies to build customised solutions more easily .
"We have taken core technologies and built simplicity integration code that ties all of them together so users can build out a variety of small business scenarios they can get better value from. It is more than just offering Windows and applications bundled together," said Katy Hunter, group product manager with Microsoft's Windows Server Division.
Analysts agree that the smooth integration of the components is the key ingredient for attracting smaller shops, particularly those buying their first server, which typically do not have the technical expertise or inclination to do technical tweaking and fine tuning.
"A smooth job of integration is what smaller companies are going to need in large measure with a product like this, where they do not have IT staffs to do all the fine tunings and tweaks to get up and running," said Ray Boggs, vice president in charge of Small and Medium Size Business Research at IDC.
While Microsoft has made strides in simplifying the installation and configuring of the product, small users will still need the help of value-added resellers (VARs).
The Standard Edition of the product includes Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Windows Sharepoint Services and the Microsoft Shared Fax Service. The Premium Edition includes everything that is in the Standard Edition and adds the company's Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000, SQL Server 2000 and OfficeFront Page 2003.
Pricing for the Standard Edition is $599 while the Premium Edition costs $1,499. Both include a licence for five clients.
Ed Scannell writes for InfoWorld