IBM this week relaxed stringent requirements for running the highest-end version of its Windows server software, effectively lowering the overall price 30 percent in some cases and potentially expanding the pool of interested customers. To minimize crashes, Microsoft and server makers have tightly controlled Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, a product geared for critical tasks that run on powerful machines with numerous processors. For example, hardware, software and storage choices were limited to a small number of certified configurations, and a customer had to purchase support services from the server maker.
Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is designed for high-end multiprocessor servers running critical tasks. To enable the careful testing of quality and compatibility that's needed to cut down on crashes, Microsoft has permitted the operating system to be used only in conjunction with a short list of certified hardware and software, including network adapters and antivirus programs. In addition, Microsoft has required that customers buy support contracts and that the systems be set up in advance by qualified server makers such as IBM and Unisys.
Now those constraints are being lifted, IBM confirmed this week. Among the changes: Customers no longer must buy the support; IBM-certified hardware may be installed, not just the much shorter list of Datacenter-certified hardware; and customers or computer resellers now may build and install Datacenter servers on their own instead of ordering pre-built machines from IBM.
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