Microsoft Pitches a Server at the Smallest SMBs

Always looking for unserved or underserved markets, Microsoft unveiled a Windows Server offering on Wednesday that aims to provide very small businesses with an entry-level server.

Dubbed Windows Server 2008 Foundation, the server offering, which targets small businesses that have 15 or fewer users, will be available through PC OEMs beginning in April, the company said in a statement.

“There are about 33 million small businesses around the world with one to 15 employees and less than 25 PCs,” Chris Phillips, general manager of the Windows server solutions group, told

So where’s the market opportunity?

“Seventy percent of small businesses don’t have a server,” Phillips added.

Microsoft has had a small business product — prosaically named Small Business Server or SBS — for more than a decade. However, SBS provides overkill for the smallest of businesses because it provides more than just support for file and print services as well as remote access, as Foundation server aims to do.

Whereas SBS provides an array of application services ranging from Exchange e-mail, to SharePoint collaboration, and Web serving, Foundation server provides a bare minimum.

The new Foundation server product is built around Windows Server 2008. One feature that Microsoft does not see small businesses needing is virtualization. Therefore, that component of Windows Server 2008 is disabled.

The server also only comes in a 64-bit edition, only supports one CPU socket and up to 8 GB of RAM.

“It has a lower price point and also a lower complexity point,” Phillips said.

It’s a little difficult to actually nail down the price of Foundation server, however, because it will only be sold via Microsoft hardware OEMs and solution providers. On the list of OEMs: HP, Acer, IBM and Dell.

While pricing will be set by the OEM or solution provider, since the software will only come already installed on server hardware, there will be offerings that are in line with small businesses’ budgets, Microsoft said.

“[Packages] will be sub-$1,000 for the hardware and software,” Phillips said.

Windows Server 2008 Foundation will initially be available in seven languages, including English, traditional and simplified Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish, and will ship in 40 countries. Further languages and countries will be added over time.

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