Windows Small Business Server 2003 Approaches Release - InformationWeek

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Windows Small Business Server 2003 Approaches Release

The Windows Server 2003 software bundle is aimed at companies with up to 50 PCs.

Microsoft is one step closer to delivering the next version of its Small Business Server, a software package that's aimed at companies with up to 50 PCs. The platform has been tuned for setup in as little as 15 minutes, compared with two hours for the current version.

The Windows Small Business Server 2003 "release candidate" is now available for testing by computer manufacturers, resellers, and small companies with the resources for it. The product will be released to manufacturing in August or September and be generally available a few weeks after that, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Small Business Server 2003 will come in two editions. A premium package, comparable to the current Windows 2000-based Small Business Server 2000, includes the Windows Server 2003 operating system, Exchange Server 2003 messaging system, SharePoint Services collaboration software, SQL Server 2000 database, Internet Security and Acceleration server, FrontPage development tools, and five client-access licenses. Microsoft hasn't released pricing, but Small Business Server 2000 lists for $1,499.

A standard edition, not previously available, will ship at lower cost without SQL Server 2000 or the ISA software. It's aimed at companies with business applications that already have databases and those with network security in place.

Both editions are designed for quick installation and remote administration since many small businesses don't have dedicated IT personnel. Once the software has been loaded onto a computer, configuration can be accomplished in just 15 minutes, says the spokeswoman.

Ray Boggs, an analyst with IDC, says easier implementation is key if more small companies are going to deploy the kinds of technologies Microsoft is making available. While $1,000 servers have arrived, that doesn't mean 20-employee companies are prepared to manage them. "It's still perceived as a pain in the neck to implement," Boggs said. "So, even though it's affordable, people hadn't been moving forward and committing to networking." That's beginning to change, he said, as IT vendors target the small- and midsize-business market.

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