Microsofts Centro Aimed at Midmarket

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-09-12 Print this article Print

In line with its strategy to target the long-neglected midmarket business segment with products designed for that sector's specific needs, Microsoft Corp. is working on a new infrastructure server software solution that bundles together a number of its le

In line with its strategy to target the long-neglected midmarket business segment with products designed for that sectors specific needs, Microsoft Corp. is working on a new infrastructure server software solution that bundles together a number of its leading products.

Centro, the code name for the new product, will bring together Windows Server "Longhorn"; the next version of Exchange, code-named Exchange 12; the next generation of security technologies, including the upcoming version of ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server; and System Center management technologies, said Microsofts Steven VanRoekel, director of midmarket solutions in the Windows Server Group.

Microsoft, which is based here, is hoping to release Centro in 2007 as part of the Longhorn wave of products, but Bob Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for Windows Server, left open the possibility that Centro might not ship until 2008.

Andrew Field, president of online printing company, in Livingston, Mont., which has a staff of 125, welcomed Microsofts decision to create solutions that automate many of the tasks his IT staff members spend many hours on.

"We dont have a huge IT staff, but we have 20 servers and a huge network, as we are an e-commerce firm. If Microsoft can deliver an out-of-the-box solution like Centro that will be really useful, I would be very interested in it. I need my small IT department to spend less time on non-value-added stuff, the churn, and more time doing things that move the business forward," Field said.

Several Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, have admitted they have long ignored the mid-market.

"The midmarket customer has been the least-well-served across the spectrum of people served by IT. They are not only competing with the enterprise but they also face specific IT challenges," Ballmer said at the Microsoft Business Summit here last week.

Anthony Risicato, an IT administrator at Exact Advertising LLC, in New York, said Microsofts move into the midmarket falls under the heading of "better late than never." Risicato said, "This market segment has long been neglected at worst and undersupported at best. The hoops IT folks have to jump through to efficiently run a small enterprise are astounding."

Centro will be available preinstalled from Microsoft OEMs and system builders and is expected to run on two to three servers.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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