Microsoft 'Recalls' Small-Biz Server

Another day, another delay at Microsoft. On the heels of Vista and Office 2007's well-publicized tardiness, Small Business Server 2003 R2 becomes the latest product out of Redmond, Wash., to slip its ship date.

Originally due out in mid-August, SBS 2003 R2 is now expected to be generally available four to six weeks hence--probably sometime in September or early October. The operating system actually had begun shipping to manufacturing partners (OEMs, distributors and systems builders) in July, as planned, but an audit of the software prompted an immediate recall.

This routine check of the initial software on the manufacturing line found that it contained portions of code deemed "non-final," according to Microsoft. The vendor stopped manufacturing and shipping the product, and asked that OEMs, disties and systems builders return the estimated 3,600 units that had gone out the door so far.

"Microsoft plans to swap in the 'final' code, then reissue Small Business Server 2003 R2 to its manufacturing partners," says a company spokeswoman. Most of Microsoft's voluminous partner base did not have copies of SBS 2003 R2 in hand yet, although they might be affected by the new, later-than-expected availability.

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SBS 2003 R2 is a significant upgrade to an operating system that has attained success targeting the "S" in the SMB market. SBS is a darling among Microsoft partners. They use the server, which accommodates up to 75 seats, to anchor IT environments for small customers that, in many cases, had next to nil in terms of IT assets.

Partners such as Amy Luby, CEO of Mobitech in Omaha, Neb., regard SBS as the perfect foundation for small businesses that are increasingly demanding more sophisticated solutions. Luby is typical of many of Microsoft's so-called Small Business Specialists, a partner distinction the company created in 2005.

"We started out doing SBS, and it's the foundation, but now that the infrastructure is easier, we're spreading out," says Luby, whose company is moving up the stack into solutions around Microsoft SharePoint Portal Services and Live offerings.