Server 'roles' to save companies headaches, not cash

Microsoft says customizing Windows Server 2008 should help businesses, but bill for a single-purpose server is unlikely to be less.
Written by Ina Fried, Contributor
LOS ANGELES--Although businesses will have the option to install only certain pieces of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft isn't likely to sell the operating system in a piecemeal fashion.

The company has been touting the ability of the new server OS to be configured for certain functions, or "roles," such as Web server or directory server. Such an approach has a number of benefits, chief among them being a reduced footprint for potential attacks.

But limiting a server to a particular role isn't likely to result in a smaller bill from Microsoft. In an interview, general manager Bill Laing said at WinHEC here that Microsoft expects to sell Windows Server 2008 in much the same way it has previous releases, with the pricing varying mainly on the type of business use.

"We've never had any kind of feedback from customers that they don't want all the options," Laing said. "People really do think of it as an installation option because they don't necessarily at purchase time make the decision exactly how many directory servers they are going to have, how many Web servers."

Laing said such pricing would also further confuse Microsoft's product lineup, which already has different pricing options based on the scale of the server. With Windows Server 2003, there are standard, enterprise and data center versions of the main OS, as well as a separate storage server, compute cluster edition and small-business version.

"It's very hard for everyone to manage if you go by scale and then the specific role they are going to run," Laing said. "It would be very hard to do."

Microsoft last month issued a public test version of Windows Server 2008, known then by its Longhorn code name. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveiled the official name this week, though the Windows Server 2008 moniker had been widely expected and twice leaked on Microsoft's own Web site.

Earlier Wednesday, Laing confirmed the road map for releases beyond Windows Server 2008, saying small-business, midmarket and storage server versions would come in 2008, with an interim update, Windows Server 2008 R2, planned for 2009.

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