This past summer, Microsoft released two new versions of its Small Business Server (SBS) product: Windows SBS 2003 Standard Edition and Windows SBS 2003 Premium Edition. Targeting organizations that have fewer than 50 users, both editions of SBS 2003 include Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Outlook 2003, Windows SharePoint Services, and a set of SBS-specific installation and management wizards. SBS 2003 Premium Edition also includes Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003, SQL Server 2000, and Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004. Here are my candidates for the top 10 features in SBS 2003.

10. Integrated setup—SBS 2003's setup process lets you easily install Windows 2003 as well as the different SBS components—you don't need to perform a separate installation for each product component. After you've installed the server and all the SBS components, the setup process generates a custom To Do list to guide you through product configuration.

9. The Monitoring Configuration Wizard—The Monitoring Configuration Wizard lets you set up alert notifications and server performance and usage reports. You can generate management reports in push mode, which lets the server automatically send reports when a given threshold (e.g., of CPU or disk usage) is exceeded, or in pull mode, which causes the server to create reports on a scheduled basis.

8. Remote Web Workplace—The new Remote Web Workplace is a dynamically created Web site that provides a portal for users and remote administrators to remotely access SBS 2003 features. The Remote Web Workplace provides access to such capabilities as Outlook Web Access (OWA), Windows SharePoint Services, and Remote Desktop, as well as giving users who have the proper authorization access to all SBS administrative functions.

7. Remote Access Wizard—The SBS Remote Access Wizard guides the administrator in setting up server access through either a modem or a VPN. In addition to configuring RRAS, the Remote Access Wizard configures firewall settings.

6. Automated Client Setup—SBS 2003 provides several wizards that help you automate client deployment. These wizards deploy and configure applications that clients need to connect to the SBS server. SBS also provides Web-based client software deployment that lets users download the software they need to connect to SBS instead of using a floppy disk.

5. Server Management console—SBS 2003 provides two Server Management tools: one for administrators and one for power users. Unlike Windows 2003's technology-based Server Management console, the SBS Server Management Console is task-based and easy to use. The console for power users is a customizable subset of the administrative console that lets power users perform common tasks such as managing user accounts and printers.

4. Built-in intranet collaboration—Brand new with SBS 2003 is the addition of SharePoint Services­based team collaboration capabilities. SharePoint Services enhances team productivity by providing an integrated Help Desk facility and a shared document library that contains templates for common documents, presentations, and projects.

3. Integrated database capabilities—SBS 2003 Premium Edition includes SQL Server 2000 with Service Pack 3 (SP3) already applied. In addition to its relational database capabilities, SQL Server 2000 provides built-in support for business intelligence (BI) through its SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services tool and its data-mining capabilities.

2. Built-in firewall—SBS 2003 Premium Edition includes ISA Server, Microsoft's firewall product and a must-have component for a small business. ISA Server features wizards to help you configure the firewall.

1. Enhanced messaging capabilities—The best thing about SBS 2003 is that it includes Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003. This Exchange/Outlook combination provides much improved bandwidth usage and performance compared with the combo in earlier versions of SBS. In addition, the Outlook 2003 and OWA user interfaces have a much better design than do earlier versions.