Lots-o-news coming out of the World Wide Partner Conference in Boston this week.  VP Andy Lees, who oversees marketing for the Server and Tools Division, spoke this morning and made a number of announcements.  Two Windows Server news items to note:
1) The Branch Infrastructure Promotion – a discounted package of Windows Server, ISA Server, Virtual Server and the System Center Server Management Licenses – is available now.
This promo is part of an ongoing effort by Microsoft to make remote office IT easier for customers.  For example, the Branch Office Infrastructure Solution, now on version 2, provides in-depth guidance around implementing and managing branch IT. And of course Server R2 brought a lot of branch-oriented features to the table.  IDC has a good write up on the branch market and the ROI ($84K per branch!) provided by R2.
Partners play a big role in the company’s committment to branch (as they do in all things MS.)  Nortel and Getronics recently made announcements about their branch solutions built on Windows Storage Server and Windows Server, respectively.  To help VARs and solution providers capitalize on the branch market opportunity, Microsoft is subsidizing branch IT marketing campaigns for U.S. partners, too. 
2) New licensing for Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter Edition – Beginning October 1, customers will be able to buy the product directly from Microsoft and resellers, not just through OEMs.  The intent is to give more buying options to customers requiring the highest levels of scalability and availability for databases, ERP, high volume real-time transaction processing, server consolidation, etc.
And we’re adding unlimited virtualization licensing, which means by licensing a server’s processors with Datacenter Edition, customers can run any mix of the Datacenter, Enterprise or Standard editions without having to track the number of virtual machines or pay for additional Windows Server licenses.  This builds on the “4 for 1” licensing changes made for Enterprise edition last October.
For customers with the greatest mission critical requirements, OEMs will continue to sell Datacenter Edition with the Datacenter High Availability Program
on qualifying servers with as few as 2 processors. But they will now sell Datacenter Edition outside of the Program, too.
You can check out all the news from the Partner Conference at www.microsoft.com/presspass