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IE7 Not Exclusive Anymore

Internet Explorer 7.0 isn't just for technical beta testers anymore. Microsoft opened up a preview version of the browser to all comers this week as a prelude to a more formal Beta 2 to come sometime in the next few months.

IE 7.0 is the browser that wasn't supposed to happen. Microsoft planned to keep IE releases in lockstep with the base operating system -- major upgrades only at service pack and new release time. But along came more security issues than the Windows XP Service Pack 2 version of IE could handle, and a little competitive threat called Firefox.

New features in IE7 include security enhancements and tabbed browsing. A technical beta released for IE7 last year was only for a limited group of testers, but the version released this week is for anyone. Of course, if you test it, you've got to commit. You can't run IE6 and IE7 in parallel on the same system.

It's worth testing as a partner, even if only to determine early whether your Web site will have any problems with the new browser technologies.

See the story here, complete with links to download locations.

Windows Server 2003 R2 Generally Available
Microsoft formally made Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2) generally available on Wednesday. The product will now be available for customers and partners to purchase.

Billed as a minor upgrade to Windows Server 2003, R2 adds improvements to branch office management, storage management and identity integration. It also features enhancements to the Microsoft Management Console and Windows SharePoint Services.

Client access licenses (CALs) are the same as for Windows Server 2003. Customers with Software Assurance contracts have already paid for their upgrades. All others, even those with Windows Server 2003 licenses, pay new version prices.

Licensing Advisor Tool Gets Refresh
Also this week, Microsoft upgraded the Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor (MPLA). It's a tool that Microsoft positions as helping partners by encouraging customers to figure out answers to more mundane licensing questions on their own. That way, Microsoft contends, partners can concentrate on higher value conversations with customers about business problems, rather than about Microsoft contract terms.

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The advisor will now include information and advice for customers on Open Value subscriptions; Open License for academic, charity, local government and corporate organizations; and Select License for academic, government and corporate customers.

The enhanced Software Assurance benefits will become part of the tool in March when most of the new benefits go into effect. The tool now also includes information on Microsoft Product Use Rights and includes international estimated retail prices.

Microsoft plans another revision this spring.

Posted by Scott Bekker on February 01, 2006