There are two editions of the Flash Communication Server: the Personal edition ($499 US) and the Professional edition ($4,500 US). These two packages are almost identical in their feature set. The principle differences are capacity limitations with concurrent user connections, multiple hosts, and bandwidth. The price is the other considerable difference.
If you are just getting started with the technology, or just want to test it out, Macromedia offers a 30-day free trial of the Professional version. The trial gives you the full functionality of the Professional edition. This entire book was written using the Professional Trial edition. Macromedia has also produced a series of unique Communication UI components for Macromedia Flash MX. The components provide quick solutions for building chat rooms and connecting cameras and microphones to Communication Server. The components are available free of charge from the Macromedia web site (http://www.Macromedia.com/go/flashcom/). This book will use these UI Components extensively, so be sure you download the most recent version. Unlike other Macromedia server trials, Flash Communication Server Trial will be completely inoperable after the 30-day evaluation has expired.
Let's start our journey to the great unknown by first reviewing your options.