Microsoft Ships Small Business Server 2003

Last week at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, the company announced that its Small Business Server — part of the Windows Server 2003 family — is now available on prebuilt systems from Dell, HP and other providers.

Instead of dedicating different computers to different server tasks, the Small Business Server software is designed to be loaded onto one computer with networking, e-mail, secure Internet tools, file and printer sharing, as well as backup capabilities straight out of the box.

“Small-business customers tell us that for technology to effectively address their business challenges, they need solutions that are simple, familiar, economical and comprehensive,” CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.

“Small Business Server 2003 enables small-business customers to optimize their business computing and really unlock the value of information,” said Ballmer.

Protecting Business Information

The debut of the Small Business Server software follows the launch earlier this year of Microsoft’s newest enterprise-grade server software for managing computer networks, Windows Server 2003.

While large corporate problems often eclipse small business issues — particularly when it comes to software tools — one of the biggest problems small businesses face is how to gain control over information. According to consultancy Access Markets International, more than 40 percent of small businesses rank automated data backup and recovery as their primary IT need.

New features in Small Business Server, such as the backup wizard, are designed to help small businesses protect and manage their information.

The software also is designed to let users set up an intranet right out of the box with SharePoint Services — a module designed to make it simple to find and share documents, collaborate on projects and automate routine tasks across a network.

Improving Service

Small Business Server 2003 provides integrated e-mail, a company intranet and a shared contact database designed to help small-business customers manage a greater volume of customers while delivering personalized customer communications.

It also comes with a firewall to help protect a local network, Internet e-mail tools based on Exchange Server, and productivity tools, such as Outlook Web Access and the Remote Web Workplace to help users collaborate from any computer that has access to the Internet.

“With the new pricing, expanded feature list, increased ease of use and more in Small Business Server 2003, I’m looking at a very strong sales year,” said Roger Otterson of San Diego-based consultancy Qualitec.

According to Microsoft, the setup on preloaded machines will allow customers to get up and running with a fully deployed network in less than three hours. The prepackaged configuration and maintenance tools are designed to help customers maintain the system.

Small Business Focus

The company said it has delivered an unprecedented number of resources for Small Business Server partners leading up to the launch. Specifically, it has shipped more than 500,000 evaluation kits to partners and customers around the world — approximately seven times more than with previous versions.

“Microsoft has a long-standing, unwavering commitment to its partners, and that commitment continues with the launch of Windows Small Business Server 2003,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the worldwide partner group at Microsoft.

Windows Small Business Server 2003 is available from PC manufacturers, retail outlets and technology providers for US$599 for the Standard Edition server and $1,499 for the Premium Edition.

The most-current information on Small Business Server 2003 licensing and pricing can be found on Microsoft’s pricing and licensing page. A member of the Microsoft Windows Server family, Windows Small Business Server 2003 is the fourth-generation release tailored specifically to the needs of small businesses.

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