Microsoft to Preview Windows SBS 2003 R2

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-03-14

Microsoft to Preview Windows SBS 2003 R2

Microsoft is hosting some 400 of its small and midsize customers and partners at its Redmond, Wash., campus on March 14 as part of its inaugural Small Business Summit titled "Take Your Business to the Next Level."

Aside from the campus event March 14, Microsoft staff members will also host more than 40 online sessions over the rest of the week as part of the summit, for which some 10,000 people have signed up.

Kevin Turner, Microsofts chief operating officer and former executive vice president of Wal-Mart Stores, will give the opening keynote, as well as talk up its Small Business Server 2003 R2, which is due this summer and based on the Windows Server 2003 R2 operating-system build.

Turner will show the R2 user interface and some features, Steven VanRoekel, the senior director of Microsofts Windows Server Solutions team, told eWEEK.

SBS is a bundle of several different server-based products.

Included in the SBS 2003 version are Windows Server 2003; Windows SharePoint Services; SQL Server 2000; Exchange Server 2003; and ISA Server 2000.

Click here to read more about Microsofts Small Business Server 2003 R2.

The product comes in two flavors: Standard and Premium.

"The one feature we are most excited about and are going to talk a lot more about, starting at this event, is the Green Check--a technology that makes SBS control all of a users network-wide patching and update management, not only for the server but for all the desktops attached to that server," VanRoekel said.

Users will receive a daily e-mail that gives an update on the health of their system.

If all the items in that report are checked in green, they will know that all their systems are patched and up-to-date.

If some items are yellow, they will be told how to get the patch and update the system themselves, he said.

The current patching and update process is more manual and has been changed to provide small business customers with the confidence that comes with the Green Check and knowing their systems are current.

"This is all about ease-of-use for them," he said.

Next Page: Additional features and storage.

Additional Features and Storage

R2 will also increase the mailbox size limit to 75GB, resulting in more than a gigabyte of mailbox storage per person given the number of users per small business server, VanRoekel said.

The premium edition of SBS 2003 R2 will also include SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition instead of SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition, so customers with line of business applications that use a database will be able to get that technology and take advantage of it," he said.

Microsoft also plans to talk about the Windows Vista Business operating system, which is scheduled for release later this year.

It will help keep PCs running smoothly and securely so they are less reliant on dedicated IT support and will deliver new ways to organize and find information, and keeps people connected whether in the office or on the road.

Read more here about whats inside the six Windows Vista releases.

Some of the specific features for Windows Vista Business include new technology and tools to ensure that PCs are always up-to-date, secure and running smoothly; a new user interface, named Windows Vista Aero, which is designed to deliver new levels of efficiency; as well as Windows Tablet PC technology, which improves productivity on mobile PCs through new capabilities such as interacting with a PC using a digital pen or fingertip in addition to a keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft will also use this weeks Summit to announce a Technology Upgrade Program, where those customers who buy SBS 2003 after March 1 get a free upgrade to the R2 version of the product when it is released for a nominal shipping and handling fee, VanRoekel said.

For those customers who bought the product before March 1 and did not have upgrade rights under Software Assurance, there would be an upgrade fee, "which will be a relatively nominal fee, but we will announce pricing closer to general availability of the product," he said.

Microsoft will also announce some new financing initiatives at the event, including a 90-day deferred payment promotion that will apply until June 30.

This allows small businesses to buy software infrastructure and defer payment until June 30,but the purchase does continue to incur interest.

Microsoft Financing, which was set up for low-interest financing of partner services, hardware and software, would also lower the bar for purchase totals qualifying for financing from a minimum spend of $10,000 to $3,000.

"We pay the partner and hardware upfront, and so the customer gets to spread the entire payment over 36 months.

Interest comes in at 12.5 percent for purchases financed between $3,000 and $10,000," VanRoekel said.

Microsoft will also be using the event to announce an expanded partnership with retail group Best Buy, with the two firms launching a Microsoft Point of Sale solution for small retailers and businesses.

This Microsoft Point of Sale application for small retailers will be available in 115 Best Buy stores across the country, and will be available as stand-alone software as well as a Casio touch-optimized hardware package pre-loaded with Microsoft Point of Sale ready for installation.

The Microsoft Point of Sale starts at $799 for a single store, single lane solution.

Microsoft has also trained the Best Buy "Geek Squad," the people inside Best Buy who implement these solutions, to include line of business applications like point of sale and more of the back-end server infrastructure.

Best Buy Geek Squad will now offer three levels of services to support customers during and after installation, VanRoekel said.

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