Microsoft Corporation on Friday announced the immediate availability of the first Small Business Server 2000 (SBS2K) beta, an update to the company's popular SBS suite of server products designed for small businesses. Like its predecessor, SBS2K supports up to 50 users; the new version includes Windows 2000, Internet Security and Acceleration Server, SQL Server 2000, Exchange Server 2000, FrontPage 2000, shared fax and modem services, Windows Terminal Services (WTS) for remote administration, and a number of other new services. Unfortunately, SBS2K is not available for general download, though Direct Access Members can obtain the SBS Channel Readiness Kit, which includes the SBS2K beta. Customers that purchase SBS 4.5 now are eligible for a free upgrade to SBS2K when it ships this fall.

"Small Business Server 2000 is the best way for small businesses to get Windows 2000 Server and the Windows 2000 generation of server applications that they are looking for," says Steve Ballmer, the president and CEO of Microsoft. "I am really proud of the great work we've done to deliver a comprehensive small-business networking solution and provide tools that facilitate a strong service relationship between small-business customers and their technology providers. Small Business Server 2000 is a true testament to the strategic importance we place on our technology provider partners."

Microsoft says that SBS2K will become available sometime this fall, though delays with Exchange Server 2000 may affect this product as well. For more information about SBS2K, please visit the Small Business Server Web site. If you're interested in the Direct Access program, please visit the Direct Access Web site