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Microsoft Debuts BizTalk Partner Edition

Microsoft will deliver on its promise to offer a trimmed-down version of BizTalk 2004 free to Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium users, but channel partners are not optimistic that the offer will be a big hit in the SMB world.

The BizTalk 2004 Partner Edition, which will be launched in April as one of four editions of BizTalk 2004, will enable SMBs to have trading relationships with up to three trading partners. The Partner Edition is limited to a single CPU and supports up to three applications.

The stand-alone software is priced at $999 per CPU except for customers of SBS 2003 Premium, who can access the software at no charge. Both SBS 2003 editions shipped last fall.

Several solution providers said the new collaboration and Web features of SBS 2003 are useful, but it may be too early for the SMB market to embrace an e-business integration platform.

"Microsoft is wise to offer BizTalk to this market segment as a way to dip their toe in the SMB water, but I feel BizTalk is still off on the horizon of their use," said Arnie Bellini, owner of ConnectWise, a solution provider in Tampa, Fla. "Simply put, the SMB market is still busy getting the more basic parts of their IT infrastructure in place, like e-mail and collaboration. The real gem in the new SBS 2003 offer is SharePoint and the improved Shared Fax Services."

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