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Content Management Server Gets an Overhaul

Microsoft is making several changes to Content Management Server that should widen the audience for the enterprise server product, including a far less expensive version and fresh integration with the new Windows SharePoint Services.

Among changes unveiled Thursday to the product that Microsoft acquired two years ago is pricing for a new standard edition of Content Management Server. While previously known simply as Microsoft Content Management Server 2001 and Microsoft Content Management Server 2002, the price tag implied "enterprise edition." CMS currently retails for $43,000 per processor, making it one of the most expensive products in Microsoft's portfolio.

The new standard edition of Content Management Server 2002 will cost $7,000. It is expected to be available by the end of the year. "Our customers and partners have been requesting a scaled-back version for smaller businesses that don't really have the enterprise needs," said Trina Seinfeld, a Microsoft product manager. The standard edition pricing announcement came this week at Microsoft's annual conference for partners. Microsoft originally unveiled its plans in July to deliver a standard edition.

Microsoft currently has about 1,000 Content Management Server customers, which it has been gaining at a rate of about 100 new customers per quarter. A lot more users should find the product attractive at one-sixth the cost. To maintain a differentiator for the enterprise edition, Microsoft is throttling the standard edition at one processor and 15 content contributors.

Also on Thursday, Microsoft released a beta version for a new integration pack between Content Management Server and SharePoint. An earlier integration pack provided a bridge between the content management server and the full-fledged SharePoint Portal Server. This time the integration pack will support a new version of the portal server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. But it will also support tight integration between Content Management Server and the Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) add-on for Windows Server 2003, which was released last week. That means the integration pack can be used by customers who use CMS without the portal server product, which costs $5,600 with five client access licenses.

In other Content Management Server news, Microsoft said it will begin including the first service pack for Content Management Server 2002 with new shipments starting at the end of this year. SP1 delivers support for Windows Server 2003. Microsoft will also begin shipping French, German and Japanese language versions of CMS at the end of the year.

It is not clear whether there will be another release of Content Management Server after the 2002 version, although Microsoft definitely plans to continue developing the technology. CMS is one of three servers being blended into the "Jupiter" project. The first phase of Jupiter is the release of BizTalk Server 2004, which is slated for release later this year. During the second phase of Jupiter, sometime in 2005, Microsoft will combine BizTalk, Content Management Server and Commerce Server. Microsoft hasn't decided yet whether there will also be a stand-alone version of Content Management Server when the second phase of Jupiter happens.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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