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MS punts stripped down Windows Server 2008 at tiny SMBs

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Microsoft has today released a new server product from its Windows 2008 family, aimed at small, cash-strapped businesses that have so far shunned the software giant's current Small Business Server (SBS) offering.

Windows 2008 Foundation is essentially a stripped down version of the standard edition of Windows Server '08.

Microsoft has decided to flog the re-hashed product purely through OEMs, all of whom will set prices individually.

Hardware vendors that have already inked deals with Microsoft include Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM.

The firm's Windows Server product manager Gareth Hall told The Register that Microsoft was unable to talk about prices its OEM partners would set, but said it would be "substantially cheaper" than its current SBS and Windows Server 2008 offerings.

Hall said Redmond had recently identified two different types of customers within the SMB market. Microsoft is gunning for tiny firms with 15 or fewer staff that only need a "classic file and print server environment", explained Hall.

But why has Microsoft decided to offer another version of its Windows Server 2008 product now, and does the move have any connection to a sluggish take up of its SBS system?

Sadly, at time of writing we can't answer that for you, as MS hasn't provided us with real world stats around how many SBS 2008 products Microsoft has actually sold since release in November last year.

Instead Hall, who described SBS users as "happy customers", chose to focus on the sorry state of the world economy.

"We're hitting this market segment in this economic climate following feedback from our customers," he said.

In other words, SMBs are shying away from pricey server products that come loaded with whistles and bells.

As a result Microsoft has limited the scope of Foundation and stripped the OS bare, but at the same time the firm will be hoping for customer loyalty by slotting its latest offering into its SBS Solutions Pathway scheme.

"Customers can upgrade and keep their original investment intact," said Hall, who added that the product carries a maximum one processor and 8GB RAM limit and lacks any virtualisation capability.

Foundation will initially be sold exclusively through the OEM channel in 40 countries.

"North of 90 per cent of customers come from OEM", said Hall when asked why the company had made the slightly unusual decision to swerve boxing up the software and selling it off-the-shelf.

Oh, and despite the name, which seems to us to be a direct marketing swipe at Lotus Foundations, Hall told El Reg that Windows Server 2008 Foundation isn't here to rival that product. "SBS is the true competitor there," he said. ®

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