Microsoft Rebrands .Net Enterprise Server line 'Windows Server System'

Microsoft Corp. last week officially removed the ".Net" tag from its enterprise server family of products and introduced a replacement brand name -- Windows Server System.

Barry Goffe, a group manager in Microsoft's server platform division, said the new brand is being launched on the eve of this week's release of Windows Server 2003 to make it clear to the IT professionals how important the new operating system is for Microsoft's overall server strategy.

"Windows is absolutely the core, central, strategic platform for all of our servers," he said.

"We are not going to support any of our servers on Linux," he added. "This brand is a reinforcement of the fact that we are not going to port any of our servers to any other platforms."

Through the new brand, Microsoft also is seeking to clarify the value proposition for its family of server software products, according to Goffe. "The brand promise for Windows Server System is to help IT lower cost and complexity by delivering a comprehensive, integrated and interoperable server infrastructure," he said.

Focusing on the Windows brand name also may also help to reduce the level of confusion that many customers expressed about the .Net terminology. Microsoft now defines ".Net" as its set of software technologies for connecting information, people, systems and devices. .Net technologies also enable software integration through the use of XML-based Web services, the company said.

"It's true that we created, from a marketing perspective, a fair amount of confusion with respect to .Net," Goffe said. "We confused customers. There's no doubt about that. But that's more of a marketing issue. From a technology perspective, we've always been clear about what .Net is."

Valerie Olague, director of Windows Server System marketing, said that Microsoft has been working over the past six months to try to clarify the branding strategy across its entire product portfolio, cognizant of the confusion surrounding .Net.

She said that although .Net will no longer be part of the main brand name for the server software line, there will continue to be a ".Net Connected" logo signifying that a product is enabled for XML-based Web services by virtue of being built on the .Net Framework, a unified set of class libraries that will ship with Windows Server 2003.

Goffe claimed the outgoing ".Net Enterprise Server" moniker was never an official brand on a par with Office or Windows. He added that the outgoing terminology wasn't comprehensive in nature. For instance, Microsoft's Project Server was never considered part of the .Net Enterprise Server line, although it will now be considered part of the the Windows Server System brand, Goffe pointed out.

Other products that will fall under the Windows Server System brand are SQL Server, Exchange Server, Office SharePoint Portal Server, Real-Time Communications Server, BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, Content Management Server, Host Integration Server, Internet Security and Acceleration Server, Systems Management Server, Microsoft Operations Manager and Application Center.

"Microsoft wants to sell an integrated portfolio of servers and clients and tools, and by doing that, they're introducing a new competitive factor against IBM and BEA and Oracle and others," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

Schadler said some IT shops continue to do best-of-breed comparisons when selecting products such as application servers, but through its new brand, Microsoft is trying to make the cohesiveness of its products the battleground. "I think it's smart. The buyers we talk to are trying to simplify their software environments," he said.

Tom Bittman, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the .Net Enterprise Server name was "a mistake in the beginning." The new branding effort will simply refocus the world on the Windows-centric nature of Microsoft's products, he said.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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