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Do my SBS 2003 R2 CALs allow me to access a Windows Server 2008 server in my SBS Domain?

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Do my SBS 2003 R2 CALs allow me to access a Windows Server 2008 server in my SBS Domain?

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Here’s a question that has been coming up from time to time now that Windows Server 2008 is launched and SBS 2008 is still not released. The basic question is, since SBS CALs include rights to Windows Servers in the SBS domain, how does this apply now that the 2008 version is out?

If you look at how CALs work in general (check my Licensing Basics: What are CALs (Client Access Licenses)? post), you will notice that not only do you need a CAL for the specific product you are looking to access (Windows Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server, etc.), your CAL version number must meet or exceed the version number of the server you are looking to access. For instance, SBS 2000 CALs do not give you rights to access an SBS 2003 Server, just like Windows Server 2003 CALs do not give you rights to access a Windows Server 2008.

If you look at what you get in SBS 2003 R2 CALs, you have access rights to Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 servers in your SBS domain. This is why when Exchange Server 2007 came out, SBS 2003 R2 CALs did not give access rights to Exchange Server 2007, because the Exchange CAL rights included in SBS 2003 R2 are Exchange Server 2003 rights (SBS 2003 does not have Exchange 2007 in it). So now that Windows Server 2008 is out, the same situation exists.

Yes, SBS 2003 R2 does include Windows Server; however, it includes Windows Server 2003, not 2008. So, the CAL rights included in SBS 2003 R2 CALs are Windows Server 2003 CAL rights, not Windows Server 2008 CAL rights. As such, no, SBS 2003 R2 CALs do not include Windows Sever 2008 Server access rights, just Windows Server 2003 and prior versions access rights. This is the same way CALs have worked for years and years and years and is not something different for Windows Server 2008.

SPECIAL OFFER: As a benefit to our clients with SBS 2003 R2 CALs (yes, you need to have 2003 R2 licenses, not just SBS 2003), we are providing a special offer right now. For those with SBS 2003 R2 CALs, we are offering access rights to Windows Server 2008 servers (you will need to purchase your Windows Server 2008 server licenses) added to your SBS 2003 R2 domain until May 31, 2009. That’s right, we are allowing you to add Windows Server 2008 servers to your SBS 2003 R2 domains and use your SBS 2003 R2 CALs to access them until May 31, 2009 without needing to either purchase Windows Server 2008 CALs or to have SBS 2008 CALs. At that point (May 31, 2009), you will need to decide if you wish to continue to have Windows Server 2008 servers in your SBS domain. If you do, then you will need to either add Windows Server 2008 CALs to do so or upgrade your SBS CALs to SBS 2008 CALs to do so.

This means that we are giving a 12 month (June 2008 – May 2009) licensing reprieve to those with SBS 2003 R2 CALs who want to use Windows Server 2008 servers in those SBS 2003 R2 domains. Without the introduction of this special offer, anyone who wanted to introduce a Windows Server 2008 server to their SBS 2003 R2 domain today would need to purchase Windows Server 2008 CALs at that time since SBS 2008 is not available yet today. Now they will not need to purchase those Windows Server 2008 CALs today to introduce those Windows Server 2008 servers into their SBS 2003 R2 domains and will have until May 2009 to either upgrade to SBS 2008 CALs or purchase Windows Server 2008 CALs.

Now for those of you with Software Assurance on your SBS 2003 servers and CALs, there will be no decision to make in May, 2009 because your SBS 2003 R2 CALs will automatically receive SBS 2008 CAL rights as soon as SBS 2008 is released, so you’ll be good to go whether you upgrade your SBS Server to 2008 or stay at SBS 2003 R2. It’s all included in your upgrade protection rights granted in your Software Assurance benefits.

For those looking to get SBS Server or CALs, you may want to heavily consider doing it this week because on Friday, these deals below go away:

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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