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Microsoft set to launch Web server

Microsoft, making its initial foray into the Web server market, is going to ship its Internet Information Server next week; it will be available for free to users on the company's Web site.

Microsoft knows how to win instant converts to its Internet software--give it away.

The software giant, making its initial foray into the Web server market, is going to ship its Internet Information Server next week; it will be available for free to users on the company's Web site. IIS will also come bundled with the NT Server Network Value Pack, which is going to be priced at $999. Existing NT users needing a shrink-wrapped version of the product will be charged $99. Both these products will be available from resellers in March.

"Sure they are giving it away now but they will be selling all sorts of add-ons down the road," said Dwight Davis, editor of Windows Watcher newsletter.

Davis said Microsoft has the advantage of writing for the NT Server platform and leveraging its security and administrative features. With intranets growing at a rapid clip, NT is becoming an increasingly preferred platform, he said. Davis said that while Netscape ships Internet servers for Unix and NT, the NT version hasn't fared well in the market.

More than 50 software developers and 13 major PC server manufacturers are expected to throw their support behind IIS when it is introduced next Monday.

Separately, Microsoft officials said Monday that they are moving their focus on the Blackbird (the Internet Studio) development toolkit away from Microsoft Network in order to devote all their energies to the Internet. "We had planned to migrate the Web in early December, and we were going to do this in two stages," said Greg Lake, product manager at Microsoft. "Since then we've gotten a lot feedback to move right away [to the Internet] and not to bother with a staged rollout," he said. Lake said the company is going to build some tools to help migrate some of the projects of MSN content providers over to the Internet version of the product.