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May 13 2008   9:48AM GMT

Microsoft posts SBS, ‘Centro’ betas

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

On Tuesday, Microsoft is opening up beta test its small business and mid-sized business server bundles.

Early test versions of Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (previously known by the code name Centro) will be online Tuesday with a preview of Small Business Server 2008 to surface soon thereafter, said Joel Sider, senior product manger for the Windows Server Solutions Group.

Both products are due by year’s end.

The company also unveiled pricing for the mid-market bundle. Windows Essential Business Server Premium Edition (with Windows Server, Exchange Server, Forefront Security for Exchange, System Center Essentials management, Forefront Threat Management Gateway aka the new ISA Server) will list for $7,163 per server. All prices include five CALs. Additional CALs will list for $195 each.

The standard edition, which includes one less Windows Server license, will list for $5,472. ($81 per extra CAL.)

Microsoft has raised prices for Small Business Server.

The current SBS 2003 R2 Standard Edition lists for $599 and the premium edition was $1,299.  The new standard SKU will list for $1,089 with additional CALs $77 each. Premium is now $1,899 with each new CAL $189.

Sider said the price change reflects “additional value going into the server” and that per-CAL pricing has fallen. Before users had to buy a five-pack CAL license minimum for $489  but can now add CALs incrementally. “You can also buy a mix of premium and standard CALs –only buying CALs for the users needing to touch the premium servers. And, the CALs now extend to other servers on the network,” he noted.

As before SBS is for up to 75 users with a “sweet spot” of 10 to 50 users; EBS ranges up to 300 users.

As for another burning question surrounding the product family — that of naming conventions — Sider said there is no plan to change what some partners say is confusing branding.  Let it be noted here that “confusing” is a cleaned-up version of what some partners are calling the branding.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at bdarrow@techtarget.com.

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