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MS starts Win2k push by offering server version for $125

And we think we can hear another of those biggest ever public betas getting ready off-stage...

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A Windows 2000 special offer posted on the Microsoft site seems to confirm that Microsoft is going for widespread circulation of the Win2k beta 3, which is now due on April 28, as reported here earlier. The offer, posted here, in the Direct Access training section, gives you a clutch of software, NT Server 4.0, beta 3 when it's available and the full version of Win2k Server when it ships, for $125. The offer is only available in the US and Canada right now, and Microsoft is claiming a two-week order backlog, but that would kind of fit with the new beta 3 ship date, wouldn't it? The company claims what it's calling the Direct Access Hands-On Training (HOT) kit is worth a total of $2500, so at $125 it's a pretty cheap way to get your hands on NT Server -- you could always just hold onto the gold version of Win2k Server till the service pack comes out, too. The HOT kit consists of NT Server 4.0 plus Service Pack 4, NT Server 4.0 Option Pack, Microsoft Services for NetWare, Win2k Server beta 3 (when available), and Win2k Server itself (when available). And you seem to get a ton of training material too. At this kind of price, it seems pretty clear we have the beginning of a Microsoft 'hearts and minds' programme here. It's a no-brainer for people already committed to a Microsoft network strategy, and it's likely to be tempting for people who're wavering. The only thing restricting it at the moment seems to be lack of publicity and geography -- we checked through the buying procedure before making an excuse and leaving, and there don't seem to be any controls on who you are if you want to buy. That suggests that Microsoft is going for wide-scale, possibly saturation, distribution of beta 3 Server in order to pull people into Win2k Server. After all, if you're going to get Win2k Server, shipping version, for free, how could you possibly say no? As yet we haven't seen sign of a similar programme for the Win2k client version, but at this rate one should be along any time now. We also note that the OEMs are gearing up to ship beta 3 on those "selected systems" just as soon as it's available. Dell, for example, is ready and waiting. ®

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