Microsoft Aims At Workgroups

Starting in March, Microsoft will offer a Workgroup Edition of SQL Server 2000 to fill the gap between the free, embeddable Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) and SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition.

The long-awaited SQL Server 2005 is still on track to ship this summer, with the third beta due soon, said Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server. The workgroup version is restricted for use on two CPUs and won't include reporting services, business intelligence and other features of the Standard and Enterprise versions. "It's database only," he said.

Rizzo maintained the repackaging wasn't motivated by pressure from inexpensive, open-source databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL or Oracle 10g Standard Edition One. That product was priced to go head to head with SQL Server in departments and SMBs.

Some solution providers, however, said Microsoft Redmond, Wash., is facing stiff competition from those products, as well as IBM's DB2 Express. Delays haven't helped. "Oracle is killing us, and Microsoft is unveiling a new version of a five-year-old product," said one East Coast partner, who requested anonymity.

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The commercial version of MySQL is about $595 per server, but some solution providers said when support and maintenance is factored in, even that product is at near price-parity with Microsoft, Oracle and IBM midmarket offerings.

Robert Ginsburg, CTO of Version 3, a Columbia, S.C.-based Microsoft partner, professed "befuddlement" at the addition of a new SQL Server 2000 offering, given partners' impatience for the SQL Server 2005 release, dubbed Yukon. "I guess the motivation is to pull Yukon revenue forward," he said.