Microsoft Small Business Server History

To truly understand and appreciate Small Business Server, you really have to take in everything in the context of Small Business Server history.

Over the years, as anyone would expect from the marketing brilliance of Microsoft, Microsoft has redesigned its Small Business Server platform and distribution franchise to be much more responsive to not only the heritage and Small Business Server history, but industry trends as well.

Origins of Small Business Server and its History

The idea for Small Business Server 4.0 was conceived in August 1995.

Over the next two years, while Small Business Server 4.0 was being developed, several major developments had taken place in the PC industry that would dramatically impact Small Business Server.

The pace of industry change accelerated even more following the release of Small Business Server 4.0 and there’s no sign of any slowdown in pace of innovation and price/performance improvements for small business networks.

Small Business Server and its History Shaped by Explosive Growth of the Internet

By early 1996 Microsoft was totally focused on making every product Internet enabled.

The watershed Bill Gates December 1995 memo had caused the team developing Small Business Server 4.0 to make Internet connectivity a top priority.

To help accomplish this, Microsoft developed the Internet Connectivity Wizard for Small Business Server 4.0, designed to help small business end users rapidly and successfully establish an Internet presence with a select group of Small Business Server-compatible ISPs.

When Small Business Server 4.0 was released in October 1997 (the first major public notch in Small Business Server history), small businesses were already growing accustomed to dial-up ISP accounts, POP3 email, and web browsing. The Proxy Server and Exchange Server in Small Business Server 4.0 were simply a natural extension of what small business PC users were already accomplishing on a standalone basis.

1997 was also the year that Microsoft acquired Vermeer Technologies for its award-winning FrontPage web authoring software. FrontPage 97, when used in conjunction with FrontPage Server extensions at the ISP, allowed end users to develop sophisticated web sites without having to know any type of programming or HTML coding.

Following the release of Small Business Server 4.0, Web sites, e-mail, and Internet access usage continued to skyrocket. IDC/Link’s 1998 study found that small business Internet usage had more than doubled between 1996 and 1997.

How Field Feedback Impacted Small Business Server History

During this timeframe, Microsoft also got feedback from computer resellers and systems integrators on the Internet Connectivity Wizard.

Computer resellers and systems integrators supporting Small Business Server 4.0 found that their small business customers were more interested in working with local ISPs and maintaining existing ISP accounts than signing up for new ISP accounts from large national ISPs through the Internet Connectivity Wizard.

So for Small Business Server 4.5, Microsoft reshaped the Internet Connectivity Wizard to give computer resellers and systems integrators and small businesses more options.

The wizard now could either launch a highly automated procedure for creating new ISP accounts or provide the flexibility to easily configure existing email, access, and publishing accounts through a set of new wizards. In addition, Microsoft created a set of worksheets that could be sent to the ISP to help with the planning of key Internet configuration data.

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