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Freebie BlackBerry bonanza kicks off

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BES Express launches today, offering free software for those who want to host their own BlackBerry servers but lack the budget to do so.

RIM has started giving away copies of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, which will integrate with Microsoft Exchange to sync up BlackBerry devices as well as offering the most important functions of its $4,000* big brother, in an attempt to sell more hardware as well as smoothing the migration path.

The new version was announced during Mobile World Congress last month, but is available to download this morning from RIM's servers. Also now available is a complete list of the 35 functions supported by 'Express (pdf), a subset of the 400+ available on the full blown BES but one that includes such important things as remote wipe, control of third-party applications and even the device camera.

RIM provides a useful comparison chart (pdf) for those becoming confused by the four ways in which a BlackBerry can be connected these days, but basically the Express version is aimed at BOFHs who've spotted more than a few BlackBerrys around the office and want to exert a little control without having to fill out lots of budget-request forms.

RIM is hoping that once indoctrinated, companies will decide to upgrade to the full version. If not, the company can make some money selling a few more handsets - the joys of owning both ends of the value chain! ®

* RIM has been in touch to remind us that the list price for their full version is $3299, so not quite four grand then.

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