Encouraged by the market reception of its Windows Small Business Server product, Microsoft is looking for an encore with a similar bundle targeted at mid-size businesses.
The new Windows Server SKU ? called, at least for now, Windows Midmarket Server (MMS) ? is still not soup yet. But Microsoft executives have a good idea about how they plan to reach the mid-market sweet spot, which Microsoft identifies as users with 50 to 250 PCs.
As does Windows Small Business Server, the MMS product will bundle together a number of different Microsoft server products into a single deliverable. Exchange Server and SharePoint are expected to be part of the MMS SKU, sources close to Microsoft said.
(Windows Small Business Server integrates into a single package Windows Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services, Exchange Server 2003, SQL Server 2000, and ISA Server 2000, along with a handful of desktop programs, including Outlook 2003, a shared fax program and FrontPage 2003.)
Orlando Ayala, senior vice president of Microsoft's small and midmarket solutions and partner group, confirmed Microsoft's plans for a mid-market server during a recent interview with Microsoft Watch.
"In the next six months, we'll roll out something very clear," Ayala said, in terms of Microsoft's strategy to target mid-market business-decision-makers.
Ayala said Microsoft believes there are an estimated 1.7 million mid-market customers ripe for the picking.
"We need to understand the segment in a different way," he said. Instead of focusing on penetration rates, Microsoft will focus on scenarios. The company is developing tools to evaluate how sophisticated mid-market users are, in terms of their IT-savvy quotient, and use that data to target specific slices of the audience, Ayala said.
Microsoft plans to come at the mid-market with a solution very much like Windows Small Business Server, a product that Microsoft considers one of its most successful, Ayala said.
"We're targeting our R&D (research and development) very precisely for that segment," he said.
Ayala said Microsoft is currently aiming to bundle together five different Microsoft server products, though he did not specify which ones.
The five will look like a single server, from a virtual view," Ayala said.
He also declined to comment on when Microsoft would field the MMS bundle. Sources close to the company have said Microsoft would like to make such a product one of its "Longhorn Wave" offerings, which would put it roughly in the 2006 to 2008 timeframe.
Microsoft officials declined to elaborate further on Ayala's comments.
Microsoft's Windows Server packaging strategy has been a confusing one, with many twists and turns.
At one point last year, Microsoft was considering releasing some kind of branch-office server for mid-market customers. A few months later, the company reversed itself, and decided against releasing a product known as Windows Server Branch Office.
From Microsoft Watch