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Microsoft readies Normandy invasion

Microsoft is shedding more light on its Normandy software for online services.

Microsoft has this week begun shedding more light on its strategy for Normandy, the company's suite of server software for turning Web sites into full-scale online services.

Announced in early June, Normandy includes a number of servers based on Microsoft's Windows NT Server operating system and Internet Information Server. The collection is designed to let Internet service providers, cable operators, and commercial Web developers augment sites with various capabilities: real-time chat, email, personalization, search and indexing, Usenet news, and electronic commerce. Normandy also includes security features and replication facilities so that a Web site's content can be copied or "mirrored" on other servers.

Now, Microsoft says that it's mulling plans to sell Normandy in pieces so that customers aren't forced to buy the whole thing at one time. "We're not going to think of all these components as one big monolithic box," said Mike Ahern, a Microsoft product manager.

The company has not announced pricing for the complete Normandy solution, nor has it finalized packaging and pricing for the piece-by-piece version.

But it has decided to start the second beta test for Normandy in September, with the final version set for October. The first phase of beta testing for Normandy began in June.

So far, CompuServe and Microsoft's own Microsoft Network, both of which are moving their proprietary online services to the Net, are the only two customers to sign up for Normandy. Although officials wouldn't reveal additional customer names, it expects to announce a mix of three to six online services and commercial Web site customers soon, Ahern said.

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