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One man band left to whistle for it

Fast, which claims 2,500 members UK-wide from all sectors, is pitching its new tool at SMEs that have from around 30 to 250 PCs under their roof.

But that didn't stop Pearce singling out the little guy, even though at present the company isn't gunning for the less-profitable SMB market.

"A one man band or a man and his lad as some people describe themselves find it very difficult to run their IT in isolation from supportive organisations," opined Pearce.

"So Fast positions itself to help firms be up to date on legislation to help them get on and do their job."

But when asked to clarify if, in reality, small businesses could really benefit from such a tool after parting with a hefty annual £3,500 fee, Pearce admitted that Fast currently had "nothing to offer to the SMB market".

He said: "We’re a commercial enterprise and we have a responsibility to our shareholders so our focus is on that 30 to 250-PC market segment where we believe there’s a significant opportunity for us as a commercial business."

Microsoft's anti-piracy and SAM marketing manager Samantha Bramwell was also present at yesterday's launch.

"We recognise there’s an opportunity to educate SMBs and I would ask that all of our partners look at that part of the market because some of those customers do grow into larger enterprises," she told El Reg.

"But we totally understand that Fast’s business model and its shareholders need to be respected."

Many businesses have complained long and hard that Microsoft's licensing model is unwieldy, over-complicated and extremely difficult to nail down.

"Microsoft’s licencing is complex, I’m not going to deny that point," agreed Bramwell. "But it’s there for a reason because we offer so much choice. We offer 500 products so we can’t offer a one-size-fits-all to businesses."

Meanwhile, any UK organisation interested in adding the tool to their already squeezed IT budget will need to install Microsoft's free SQL Server Express edition, which doesn't need a licence, in order to host the database.

There are no client installations required either as the database can be accessed via a web browser. There is a caveat though: Fast only supports Internet Explorer at this time. ®

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