Microsoft Looking to Shift Its Server Mix With Whistler

In the Whistler server generation, Microsoft is considering demoting Windows Server to a small business product and creating a Web-farm specific server edition, a senior Microsoft official said this week at WinHEC.

“We want to get businesses to standardize on Advanced Server,” Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Windows division, told keynote attendees at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Anaheim.

The Whistler servers are the generation of servers to follow Windows 2000. They entered Beta 2 testing on Sunday afternoon. The servers are not considered feature complete, and Microsoft officials say the next-generation servers won’t ship until several months after the Windows XP clients ship.

Microsoft is looking to tailor standard Whistler server for branch offices, small businesses and home users “We’ll have the standard edition that will move into those non-managed or unmanaged environments around small businesses and branch offices so that we can really focus on simplicity in that area, talk to the person that’s not the IT professional or IT literate, but then really do some really great stuff in Advanced Server and Datacenter Server as we move that product line forward,” Valentine said.

He acknowledged immediately that Microsoft would have to do something about licensing costs: “We’ll make sure the licensing models and pricing models are correct to do that.”

According to Microsoft’s Web site, Windows 2000 Advanced Server with 25 Client Access Licenses costs 120 percent more than Windows 2000 Server with the same number of CALs.

Analyst Al Gillen with IDC says it makes sense for Microsoft to get more of their customers to use Advanced Server than the less expensive Server, which currently accounts for about two-thirds of Microsoft’s server business by Gillen’s estimate.

Microsoft will have to be careful with how it moves customers to standardize on the more expensive product, though, Gillen cautions.

“If they wind up making it cost more for users to be on four-way systems with Advanced Server, [Microsoft] may shoot themselves in the foot,” he says.

Valentine also described a possible fourth SKU of Windows server to be introduced in the Whistler timeframe: a Web blade edition.

“We’re going to be looking very hard at having a Web blade or a Web-centric or a Web-server edition of the server also that allows you to build out that n-tiered architecture with Web servers on the front, application and Advanced Servers in the middle, and then Datacenter Servers to run your databases on the back-end,” Valentine said. -

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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