Microsoft to bundle Terminal Server with Windows 2000

And the new prices are a positive initiative, not a collapse. Honest.

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Microsoft has confirmed the new Windows NT Terminal Server pricing structures revealed here yesterday (MS Terminal Server policy collapses), and has committed to shipping the next edition as standard with Windows 2000. Terminal Server is to be integrated as of Beta 3 of Windows 2000, which is now due in April. Microsoft seems to have intended to integrate Terminal Server for some time now - a whole 18 months ago The Register heard Bill Gates himself say it would happen. But problems in defining pricing models have held the announcement back until now. The new price levels for Terminal Server mean, effectively, that the multiuser server component is free. If you minus the new licence costs from a five user retail pack's price of $1,299, for example, then you're down to the ballpark price for vanilla NT Server (although admittedly this comes with Client Access Licences too). As we said yesterday, the cost at the client end effectively halves, although the way Microsoft puts it, the list price goes up. How come? Previously you had to buy an NT Workstation licence, which we have down here at $319, but which Microsoft assigns a typical retail price of $269 to, and then you also needed an NT Server CAL at $39.95. Now you don't need the Workstation licence, and instead you just need to buy a new Terminal Server CAL at an estimated retail of $109. Microsoft hasn't confirmed that you'll also need an NT Server CAL for file and print, but this would seem likely. There are some obvious implications to the new structure. If you've got PCs deployed already as clients, it remains cheaper to run your applications locally rather than to start having rebellious thought about server-based multiuser apps. Also, although the MS software costs of deploying thin clients are no longer cripplingly expensive, they're still pretty high, and concurrent licensing in the corporate market remains beyond the pale. Microsoft hasn't confirmed the discounts of up to 50 per cent said to be available to enterprise customers, but it wouldn't, would it? We'd expect this to happen, and we'd also expect fairly high discount levels to come in for educational customers - they're a market Microsoft won't want to let escape. The single aspect of concurrency to the announcement, the $9,999 Internet Connector licence (we got the name wrong and missed the price by a dollar, sorry) looks like a possible weak link. This allows 200 "anonymous users" to connect simultaneously across the Internet, so it is actually a concurrent licence, designed to allow Application Service Providers to run NT Server apps and offer them to customers on a rental basis. The kicker however is that these anonymous users aren't allowed to work for you. Quite a lot of this is going to be difficult to police, and we wouldn't be at all surprised if something approaching Web-based software auditing crept into Microsoft's OS plans Real Soon Now. So what have we got, a great new pricing strategy or a collapse? Well, back in October, Microsoft Terminal Server Product Manager Solveig Whittle said: "We don't have any plans to change our model and move to concurrent licences at this point," while later that month Bill Gates said Microsoft had dropped concurrent licensing because it was unpopular. Microsoft has now changed its model and reintroduced an element of concurrent licensing. Yesterday's announcement however reads: "The change, which will take effect Feb. 1 in English-speaking countries, was made in response to customer feedback, Whittle said." Right. Oh, and compare and contrast these two statements: "Mirage decided the most efficient setup would be a computing environment powered by Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition server software. Using Terminal Server has enabled Mirage Resorts to save money by managing hundreds of desktop devices centrally from a handful of servers." - Microsoft announcement, 18th January 1999. "Mirage Resorts, Incorporated has deployed Citrix WinFrame and MetaFrame server-based computing software in all four of its celebrated resorts in Las Vegas." - Citrix announcement, 16th November 1998. Funny old life, innit? ®

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