Good morning Flashers. It's official: Flash Media Server 3 will be released in and it will improve pricing dramatically (yay!).

New Server Editions
This has been a long time coming and it marks a huge step forward for FMS as a platform. There will be no more bandwidth or connection limitations (instead it's all you can eat so to speak) and there will be two server editions which simplify the whole offering greatly: Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server and Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server. A free developer edition is also available.
As you may have guessed, Flash Media Streaming Server will allow you to - wait for it - stream video (both live and on-demand) while Flash Media Interactive Server basically presents the current feature set of FMS2 (and then some more), the swiss army knife of media servers which supports not only streaming but also has scripting capabilities, server side remote objects, and everything you are used to to date. This means that Flash Media Streaming Server (FMSS) is basically a stripped down version of the Flash Media Interactive Server, and it will cost less too (and pricing was a major sore point to date). This makes sense, because so far you had to pay for all features even if all you wanted to do was push video.

Pricing
FMSS will set you back a mere USD $995 while FMIS costs USD $4,500. Combined with the dramatic licensing improvements this means that the fully features Flash Media Interactive Server is much better value for money while Flash Media Streaming Server will allow you to push video for less than a thousand bucks. What's your excuse now for not using Flash video?
If you are like me and want to build not only video features but also throw in a bit of collaboration and multi user trickery then the Flash Media Interactive Server (let's call it FMIS) is for you. And get this: FMIS can be configured as Origin/Edge as well as standalone, which means the price point for large scale deployments has been totally slashed by about 90%.
In terms of other caps there's only the usual CPU restrictions which are in line with other platforms: FMSS supports up to 4 CPUs or cores per license (allowing for a dual CPU, dual core setup per license) while FMIS allows up to 8 CPUs or cores. This means that CPU restrictions have also been relaxed when compared to FMS2 (which all of a sudden seems really unattractive :-).

New Features
There are of course a host of new features too, such as massive performance improvements (which effectively improve value for money even further), support for H.264 streaming, added security features, streaming to mobile via Flash Lite 3 and a bunch more. There's a side by side comparison chart here.

There is also a great article and podcast with Kevin Towes, FMS Product Manager, here.

Flash Media Server 3 is due to ship in early 2008. The full press release is here, the product page here.