Although Microsoft is known for its enterprise-class software solutions and for Small Business Server (SBS) 2003, which targets small businesses, the company had curiously ignored the crucial midsized business market until this week. This morning, on the eve of its Worldwide Partner Conference 2005 in Minneapolis, Microsoft addressed that gap with a server product bundle that targets midsized businesses.

Dubbed the Windows Server System for Medium Business, the new product bundle includes three copies of Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, one copy of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, one copy of Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 Workgroup Edition (which is limited to 10 servers), and 50 CALs for both Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003. The package will cost about $6400 in the United States, a 20 percent savings over the price of the software purchased separately. Additionally, customers will be able to purchase as many as 250 combined CALs for Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003 for $76 each (US pricing), also a 20 percent discount.

"Today, medium-sized customers are content but enduring lots of pain with server patching and rebooting, and downtime," Steven Van Roekel, director of Mid Market Solutions with Window Server, told me earlier this week. "The bottom line is that these customers are not expecting enough from IT, and IT is not viewed as moving from a cost center to a company asset. They should expect more from their systems."

In addition to the product bundle, Microsoft will soon make available a complete set of documentation via a new TechNet Web site aimed specifically at IT staff at midsized companies. Microsoft has also published a book, "Windows Server System Deployment Guide for Midsized Businesses," to help midsized businesses make the transition to more modern technology.