The place where users get incremental value with Office 2003 is in the SharePoint scenario. As the product stresses simplicity, Microsoft is hoping that this will be the server release that breaks down the server adoption barriers in small businesses and help drive that adoption. "As such, we decided to introduce the even lower-end standard version of the product. "There is relatively low server adoption among small businesses, with just 19 percent of U.S. based small businesses using server technology even though 66 percent of them have more than one PC," Hunter said.For Microsoft, that meant defining scenarios and really exposing these to end users who were probably not trained. This meant providing an end-to-end solution as well as a lot of step-by-step help for them. Microsoft had also built an end-to-end solution that allowed users to back-up all their data and that addressed the day-to-day availability of their information and provided a solution and help with those system components they also needed to monitor. More than 500 beta testers have been evaluating the product and providing feedback. But there are also five customers involved in a Joint Development Process around the product. Many Microsoft executives and other company officials are also testing the Small Business Server by running it as their home server. Microsoft will also now be kicking off a training program around the product for its channel partners, Hunter said.
As such, Microsoft had conducted extensive research to see what it would do to break down those barriers. End users wanted to be able to find, share, communicate and access business data. They also wanted exposure to the functionality available to them, she said.