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Dell targets small businesses

Computing packages aimed at small businesses are proving a hot market for hardware and software makers.

Computing packages aimed at small businesses are proving to be this year's hot market for hardware and software makers.

Today, Dell Computer (DELL) announced a small business package that combines its PowerEdge 2200 server with Microsoft's BackOffice Small Business Server software and Windows NT Server operating system.

The package, priced from $4,479, joins an increasingly crowded field of bundles aimed at small businesses.

After years of selling products to mainstream corporate users, a growing crowd of software, hardware, and networking equipment makers are now targeting the small-business market, which makes up an increasingly large segment of the economy.

In October, Compaq Computer began offering comparably priced servers for small businesses, in an attempt to reassert itself in the burgeoning market.

Hewlett-Packard and NEC are also offering servers which support Microsoft's Small Business Server suite.

Dell's PowerEdge 2200 server supports up to two 300-MHz Intel Pentium II processors, 512 MB of memory, and up to 27GB of hard disk storage. Dell is also offering a 30-day "getting started" program that provides telephone support and training materials.

The standard Small Business Server license included with the Dell package allows 10 users to access the server software. The license can be upgraded to accommodate 25 users.

Microsoft debuted Small Business Server in October. The bundle includes Windows NT Server, Internet Information Server, Fax Server, Proxy Server, Modem Sharing Server, SQL Server, Outlook Desktop Information Manager, Internet Connection Wizard, FrontPage 97, and Small Business Server Console.

Analysts say the small-business market will be one of the most heavily contested battlegrounds for hardware makers and software vendors such as Microsoft, SAP, Cisco, and Lotus Development.