Microsoft has made a play for small businesses feeling the squeeze from the credit crunch by launching its Windows Server 2008 Foundation offering for SMEs with 15 or fewer employees. In an announcement unwrapped at 2pm GMT today, the company says that this product is suitable for running typical business applications, supporting databases for hosting web sites and offering basic server functionality for file and print sharing as well as remote access.
Ahead of today’s news, I spoke to Gareth Hall who is Windows Server product manager to try and garner a few extra details and ask him what the impact of this product might be for software developers.
“This is Windows Server 2008 with all the normal features, but only licensable for 15 users,” said Hall. “There are however no virtualisation rights and the product can only be supported on servers with one processor socket. What I would say to developers who want to support their applications on this product and are worried about new standards is - that Windows Server 2008 Foundation is based totally on Windows Server 2008 itself, which the majority of application developers are already testing against when they are trying to certify their applications as it has been around since February 2008."
This ‘entry-level’ server platform will be available in 40 countries and is part of the company’s strategy to bring customers towards upgrades to the rest of the Windows Server family as SMEs grow in size. Expanded products in this family are said to provide additional functionality such as: integrated e-mail, simplified management (although it would appear that this function would have been better left in the SME version) and virtualisation.
Today’s news came with its own canned quotes from industry analysts, however I was able to get an ‘independent’ comment from Nathaniel Martinez, program director at IDC instead.
“Until recently, most very small businesses were relying on desktops used as servers to operate their server environments, largely due to the lack of an appropriate offering from IT vendors. The emergence of very low cost servers - some of them priced under 500 Euros - in recent quarters and the launch of Windows Server 2008 Foundation will help address the needs of the very small organisations, which for the most part were left behind the server revolution," said Martinez.
Along with this announcement, Microsoft says that it will donate a portion of the revenues from Windows Server 2008 Foundation to TechSoup.org and Telecentre.org, two organisations that focus on bringing the power of technology to nonprofits around the world. I tried to find out whether this includes donations in the UK and didn’t hear back either way. Admirable efforts though I suppose.
I picked up on this story as Microsoft always used to label its developer resources under its “Server and Tools” banner. I guess it’s not the biggest breakthrough Mr Ballmer will be getting out of bed for this year. But I think most of us are behind any move to support SMEs with technology.