Microsoft Tackles Midsized Businesses 

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.

Microsoft Ships IE Flaw Workaround 

Although Microsoft will ship a true patch at a later date the company this week shipped an installable workaround for a recently revealed Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) security flaw that its discoverer describes as "extremely critical." The workaround modifies Windows registry settings, a solution Microsoft describes in a security bulletin about the vulnerability. But because many Windows users aren't sophisticated enough to make this change manually the company has shipped a software based workaround that does it for them.

The IE flaw affects the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and intruders could use it to crash the browser or allow remote code to run on the affected machine. It affects a wide range of IE versions running on many different Windows versions.

Microsoft says that the software workaround will be propagated to Windows Update Microsoft Update and Automatic Updates as soon as possible. It will eventually be superseded by a true security patch that fixes the problem. The workaround simply disables part of the Microsoft JVM.