Microsoft has unveiled an aggressive plan to push its Windows 2000 platform into the application service provider (ASP) market.
At its US Fusion 2000 event for channel partners on Friday the software giant also unveiled of the beta version of Microsoft Small Business Server.
Speaking to the 4000 channel partners attending the event Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer said the company will offer Windows 2000, SQL Server 2000, Exchange 2000 Server and Office 2000 to ASPs.
No pricing structure was publically announced but it is understood that it plans to charge $3.25 per user, per month for a Windows 2000 or Exchange Subscriber Access License, while the monthly fee for the Windows 2000 and Exchange servers, called Application Service Server licenses, are $35 per month and $60 per month, respectively. At $145 per month, renting Windows 2000 Advanced Server will be the most expensive.
Analysts, however, fear users will be suspicious of the plan. "This stretches out the licensing model potentially into perpetuity," said Bill Martorelli, analyst at consultancy the Hurwitz Group. "A lot of people are concerned that kind of functionality they have now."
under this new licensing programme they will end up paying more for the same To boost its entry into the rentable apps arena, Microsoft and partners Compaq, EDS and marchFirst will offer professional services to help ASPs quickly deploy Windows 2000-based hosted services.
The software giant has also signed up five ASP aggregators that will sell hosted services to Microsoft solution providers which will in turn customise them for their markets. The initial aggregators include Digex, Data Return, EDS, Hewlett Packard and Cable & Wireless.
The company also announced the beta release of Microsoft Small Business Server 2000 which includes Windows 2000 applications such as Exchange, SQL Server, shared fax features and administration tools.
Microsoft also launched the formation of a business tools division which aims to make it easier for channel partners to sell additional products and services based on Microsoft Project, Visio, its drawing and diagramming software and MapPoint, its business mapping application.
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