RIM offers free Blackberry server software

Canadian smartphone company Research in Motion is offering free Blackberry server software to small and medium sized businesses.

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express wirelessly and securely synchronises the company's handsets with Microsoft's Exchange 2010, 2007 and 2003 or Windows Small Business Server 2008 or 2003.

Users will be able to sync email, calendars, contact notes and tasks as well as managing and searching folders and emails on the remote server.

They will also be able to book meetings and appointments, check availability and forward calendar attachments, set out-of-office replies, edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files (using Documents To Go software), access files stored on the company network and use mobile applications to access business systems behind the firewall.

The free software, which runs on the same physical or virtual server as the mail server or on its own server, is also certified for use with VMware ESX.

System administrators will have access to over 35 IT controls and policies, including the ability to remotely wipe a smartphone and enforce and reset passwords, through a Web-based interface that allows remote administration and makes it easy to install the software, connect BlackBerry smartphones and apply usage policies.

RIM is no doubt hoping that users of the free software will sooner or later want better security, or voicemail functionality, in which case they'll have to upgrade to the full-blown BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5... which isn't free.