Microsoft is set to announce Tuesday that it is launching a "public preview" program for two server products based on its Windows Server 2008 operating system.
The products, one aimed at small business and the other at midsize firms, combine the server operating system with Exchange Server and other software into a bundle designed to cost less and be easier to install than acquiring the products separately.
Small Business Server 2008 is an update to an existing small business product, while Windows Essential Server Solutions 2008 (formerly code-named Centro) is a new product, targeted at midsize firms that have small IT departments.
Microsoft plans to hit the release candidate stage for the midsize business product on Tuesday, with Small Business Server slated to hit that milestone in the coming weeks. At that point, the products will be made available broadly for public testing. Both have been in more limited beta testing for some time.
"There's a lot of pent-up demand," said senior product manager Joel Sider. "People want to put it through its paces."
Final release for both is slated for before the end of the year, Sider said.
The two products come in a couple of different flavors, with a charge for the server software and for each computer that connects to the server. In general, though, Sider said that the midsize product offers around a 30 percent savings compared with buying all of the components separately, while Small Business Server is priced at a 35 percent to 45 percent discount.
Microsoft did change the balance of the charges this time around for Small Business Server, hiking the server price and lowering the cost for computers that connect to the server. In general, Sider said, companies will pay less, though some smaller firms may see their costs go up.
"It can be (more) in some cases," Sider said. "At most it might be a couple hundred dollars more."