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It was announced yesterday that the Office team has completed its development work on the 2007 Microsoft Office system – our most important release of Microsoft Office in more than a decade. 

The release of the 2007 Microsoft Office system is a milestone event for the Microsoft Business Division and Microsoft. It is the most significant release of the Office system since Office 95 in terms of its scope, the level of deep customer research conducted to help our users get better results faster, and the user feedback we received to improve it.  Over 3.5 million beta testers and data from nearly 150 million user sessions helped shape and strengthen this release.  Simply put, the 2007 Microsoft Office system ushers in an enormous opportunity to help information workers be more productive everywhere. It will be available to our volume license business customers later this month and will be broadly available to consumers early next calendar year.  As you know, we will soon release Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007. In combination with the 2007 Microsoft Office system, these products are nothing short of breakthrough – their combined innovations will amplify the impact of people everywhere. Beginning later this month we’ll be launching them to our business customers through an orchestrated wave of over 250 business availability events. Please visit the business value launch homepage today to learn more.   

There has been tremendous internal adoption of our earlier betas – over 53,000 Microsoft machines are running pre-release versions of Office today.

On December 5th we are seeing the Launch event to our business comunity in the UK of Exchange, Vista and Office 2007 which stands to be an awesome event with some great speakers.

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So recently I’ve been asked several times about using Sharepoint Services as an extranet to securely exchange documents with customers and business partners – think about retailers looking to collaborate with partners and suppliers over merchandising decisons.  The short answer is that this is very possible with Windows Sharepoint Services.  However, you must be familiar with the licensing considerations, and how those apply to vanilla Windows Server compared to Small Business Server . . .

First, Windows Sharepoint Services is a free add-on to Windows Server 2003 – and as such, access to WSS is bound by Windows Server licensing for the product it is installed on.  With vanilla Windows Server, we have two licensing modes – Per Server and Per User / Device.  It is also important to note that while you can enable anonymous access to WSS sites and bypass licensing considerations, for the purposes of enabling a secure extranet, we’re assuming that anonymous access will not be enabled.

With Per Server mode, you are using a concurrent licensing model – so you can have an unlimited number of users accessing the server (and thus any WSS sites) just as long as the maximum number of concurrent connections does not exceed the number of installed CALs.

With Per User / Per Device mode (formerly Per Seat mode), you must have a User or Device CAL for each unique User or Device that connects to the server.  Therefore, if you wanted 100 separate users to access the server (and thus any WSS sites), you would need 100 User CALs. 

Now, for vanilla Windows Server, you can also purchase an External Connector – which allows for an unlimited number of external users to connect to your server (and thus any WSS sites).  Note that an external user is defined as “a person who is not an employee, or similar personnel of the company or its affiliates, and is not someone to whom you provide hosted services using the server software” – so you would still require the necessary CALs for internal users. The challenge that i have faced is that the External connector Licence in a scenario where SPS is being used with a resilaint architecture is that its is quite expensive – blowing most business cases out of the water. (is charged per front end server)

So – to use Windows Sharepoint Services as an extranet solution on vanilla Windows Server, the licensing structure that works best is dependant on the number of concurrent external connections that you are anticipating, as well as the licensing mode you’re using for any other Windows servers in your domain.  For a stand-alone server, you would probably be best served with a Per Server licensing mode and a smaller number of CALs – as you would only need to license the maximum number of concurrent connections (whether internal or external users).  For a domain member server where the rest of the domain is using a Per User / Per Device mode, it makes sense to use the same Per User / Per Device mode on the WSS server, since your users / devices are already licensed.  In this scenario, you would then need to purchase User CALs for each named external User.  Once an organization is looking at more than 40 external users, then the External Connector makes sense (as Windows CALs are ~ $50 each, and the External Connector is ~ $2k).  Again, the External Connector only licenses external users – so you would need CALs for internal users.

Each of these examples shows how innovative software has the unique ability to amplify people’s efforts, capitalize on employees’ capabilities and knowledge to accelerate business results, and provide the flexibility that lets a company adapt to changes in partners, products, and the business climate. Moreover, solutions built on well-designed software do not necessarily entail large amounts of new IT spending, but they do tend to have a significant impact, rippling throughout an organization. That’s what great software can do—transform a company’s way of doing business while keeping costs down.Our (Microsoft's) Smarter Retailing Initiative helps retailers realize the promise of the power of digital technologies. Created in conjunction with leading systems integrators, independent software vendors, and original equipment manufacturers, Smarter Retailing offers a technology framework that enables retailers to build on existing technology as they take advantage of new innovations to create customer experiences that deliver true differentiation.Our technology partners around the world deliver powerful Smarter Retailing solutions for point of service and in-store systems, supply chain management, enterprise collaboration, business intelligence, and multichannel retailing.

Point of Service and Store Systems

Retail solutions based on Microsoft software are designed to seamlessly integrate store-level and head office systems, including point of sale/service, customer servicing, and inventory and order management applications. Retailers can centrally manage data and services to use them throughout the enterprise, and improve sales by using an open infrastructure to align all devices.

Supply Chain Management

Solutions focused on planning, merchandise management, and supply chain management help retailers meet strategic business objectives while driving down operational costs, enabling them to focus on expanding the capabilities of their business.


Enterprise Collaboration

Enterprise collaboration solutions encompass information distribution, training, human resources, store financial reporting, and the store manager’s workbench. Collaboration solutions built on the Microsoft platform streamline and improve communication between retailers and suppliers, equipping people to work together more effectively.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence solutions enable retailers to better manage their core systems so that people throughout the enterprise can make the best use of all available data.

Multichannel Retailing

Multichannel retail solutions give retailers the tools to provide customers with a coordinated, customized, and integrated shopping experience across multiple access points—stores, Web sites, catalogs, call centers, and other home shopping options.

So, the idea is that businesses don’t garner insights or make decisions. Businesses don’t close deals, invent new products, or find new efficiencies, people do.Companies excel when they empower their people to drive the business forward.Strategies, organization, motivation, and leadership all set the stage for business success. But to see results, you also have to give your people the right tools, information, and opportunities—because success ultimately comes down to your people. We call a business that fosters a winning environment a “people-ready business.”Software is instrumental to the people-ready business. Software is increasingly how we harness information, the lifeblood of business today. Software enables people to turn data into insight, transform ideas into action, and turn change into opportunity.Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help make your business people-ready because we know your customers and employees better than any other technology company. We interact with them every day, either directly or through our worldwide partner network. In their homes, at work, and on the road, they use the same familiar tools that you can rely on to bring everyday innovation to your company and help make it a people-ready business.