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Microsoft Posts Commerce Server Release Candidate, Starts Talking LCS 2007

Just two weeks ago, company spokespeople were calling it by the 2006 moniker.

Microsoft has posted the release candidate for Commerce Server 2006, er make that 2007, to its Web site.

Unclear why the new posting carries a December 20, 2005 date. Also unclear when the numbering scheme shifted. Just two weeks ago company spokespeople were calling it by the 2006 moniker.

Maybe they want to sync up still more releases under the near ubiquitous 2007 brand. Folks expect Beta 2 of Office 2007 to be available any minute, coinciding with WinHEC this week.

At any rate, sources still say this will be the last major release of a standalone Commerce Server SKU. In the future much of the functionality will flow through BizTalk Server, SharePoint Portal and Microsoft's suddenly oft--touted Unified Communications offerings, according to sources close to the company.

"With SOA and Web services, most of Commerce Server will be in BizTalk with the UI integrated into Office and linked via smart forms using the Unified Communications frameworks," said one knowledgeable source. " CS2006 will hold the current user base until the next wave migration.ISV potential will remain for those who want a discrete Commerce Server like product." (This guy clearly did not get the memo on the new number.)

Case in point on the ISV issue: Check out this commerce starter kit in Microsoft's new "Codeplex."

Speaking of Unified Communications, Microsoft is gearing up a big PR push around this, prepping to talk about Live Communications Server 2007, which will merge at least part of the now separate code bases underlying the current Live Meeting hosted offering and LCS 2005.

Zig Serafin, general manager of the company's Unified Communications Group, is on the road this week talking about how Microsoft plans to bring PC software-like innovation to the staid-and-stodgy world of handsets and PBXes. The goal is, as the company has stated before, to make it easier to route calls, IMs, real-time and asynch communications as efficiently as possible, cutting down on voice-mail and e-mail tag.

He was mostly mum on details about deliverables--the stock response to many questions was wait till a unified communications event in late June.

Still some nuggets surfaced. For one thing, the new LCS server will not be relegated to 64-bit-only hardware. Microsoft caused a firestorm last year with news that Exchange Server 12 would require 64-bit hardware.

It is true, as Microsoft said, that nearly all new servers are already 64-bit, and the new Exchange is still months and months away. What it failed to acknowledge is that many, many, many current shops run fairly new 32-bit machines and might resist ripping out that hardware for a software upgrade. They might in fact, not upgrade at all. And who could blame them?

Also, there are no plans to put LCS into the core CAL for volume license agreements. When Microsoft did that with SharePoint a few years back, sales took off. Clearly, Serafin thinks LCS is doing just fine without that added incentive.

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