Microsoft Corp recommends Windows 98 as the upgrade route for users that still have 16-bit applications but wants to move its corporate customers on to Windows NT desktops and the higher- revenue NT server technologies it’ll develop for business use. Indeed it is reportedly developing a small-business version of Windows NT Server called Sam which will ship later this year designed specifically for small businesses and capped at a maximum of 25 users. A pared-down version of its BackOffice suite will be tailored for use with Sam. Last year Microsoft capped the number of users of Windows NT Workstation to 15 in its license arrangements after users bought the desktop software and converted what is essentially the same code for use on servers. Microsoft says it’ll also introduce new installation, configuration, management and self-repair technologies into the bloaty BackOffice suite it claims will help meet its stated goal of reducing the total cost of deploying and administering applications by up to 50%. It’ll also target the software at use of so-called zero administration clients. Going forward, Microsoft is expected to significantly increase its spending on sales and marketing in an attempt to increase the number of PCs used in US homes. While penetration is estimated at 40%, that’s still far short of telephones and televisions. Microsoft has already invested almost $1.5bn buying WebTV and a stake in Comcast to help turn PCs into more consumer-oriented devices. Indeed, Windows 98 will include a new feature called Broadcast PC intended to turn a PC into a television. It’ll also include so- called push technology enabling users to receive information on channels, much like television. As the PC market matures, Microsoft also needs to keep ahead of potential rivals which could threaten its domination of the desktop software market and says its spending on sales and marketing will outstrip revenue growth for the first time in the company’s history. It’s sure to have a knock-on affect on earnings and may slow the increasingly ludicrous stock market valuation of the company. Microsoft thinks that can only be a good thing for shareholders in the long term, admitting its valuation – its shares opened trading down almost $4 at $137.62 on Thursday – is unrealistic. Is our company really worth $180bn? asked EVP Steve Ballmer. I don’t think it’s true.