Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager - Eric Ligman

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Downgrade rights for second Windows Server in SBS or EBS 2008 Premium – What’s the deal?

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Downgrade rights for second Windows Server in SBS or EBS 2008 Premium – What’s the deal?

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As some of you may recall, shortly after the launch of SBS 2008, there were originally some questions around the downgrade rights associated with the SQL 2008 component of the SBS 2008 Premium license, which we worked with the Server Team here at Microsoft to qualify and clarify for you. Since that time, there have been similar questions regarding the ability to run Windows Server 2003 R2 on the second server in an SBS 2008 Premium installation for the same reasons as the request for the ability to run SQL 2005, to support applications such as LOB apps that still do not support Windows Server 2008.

To help bring some clarity to this situation, here is the answer to these questions as well as some clarification about what is listed on the website based on conversations directly with the Windows Server Team here at Microsoft:

If you look at the Windows Essential Server Solutions promotions and offers page, you will see the following:

“When you purchase the premium edition of Windows Small Business Server 2008 or Windows Essential Business Server 2008 you have a choice to deploy these products:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard x86 and x64 platforms are available as an alternative version in place of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard, and are being shipped as part of the premium editions of both products until December 31, 2009.

  • Windows Server 2003 R2

Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard (both x86 and x64 platforms) will be available as an alternative version in place of Windows Server 2008 Standard that is shipped as part of SBS 2008 Premium and EBS 2008 Premium until December 31, 2009.  Beginning on January 2, 2009, this downgrade option will be offered through Solutions Pathway.”

As you can see, “Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard (both x86 and x64 platforms) will be available as an alternative version in place of Windows Server 2008 Standard that is shipped as part of SBS 2008 Premium and EBS 2008 Premium until December 31, 2009.  Beginning on January 2, 2009, this downgrade option will be offered through Solutions Pathway.”

Now, based on some questions I anticipated from Partners around this, here is some additional information and clarification:

  • Question: Does this mean they can use their existing media to install Windows Server 2003 for the downgraded install on the 2nd server? 
  • Answer: Yes, if they have Windows Server 2003 media already then they can simply use it. If they don’t then they can order Windows Server 2003 media thru Solutions Pathway starting on January 2, 2009.
  • Question: As for the, “Beginning on January 2, 2009, this downgrade option will be offered through Solutions Pathway,” what are they buying through Solutions Pathway?  Is that just the media for those who don’t have it? 
  • Answer: Yes, it will be the option to purchase the Windows Server 2003 media only to perform the downgraded install on the 2nd server.
  • Question: What happens after December 31, 2009?  Does this mean they can no longer downgrade after that? 
  • Answer: Yes, we are providing this option to utilize the downgrade option until December 21, 2009, not after that.
  • Question: What about those who chose to downgrade prior to December 31, 2009? If they downgraded prior to then, they can continue to run Windows Server 2003 on the 2nd server after December 31, 2009, correct?
  • Answer: Yes, they can continue to use Windows Server 2003 on the second server if they took advantage of the downgrade option on the second server prior to December 31, 2009. They do not lose those downgrade rights.

As for the questions around the SBS 2008 Frequently Asked Questions page where it says that there are no Windows Server downgrade rights for the second Windows Server license in SBS 2008 Premium, this page is being updated and will reflect the information above in the very near future.

I hope this helps clarify this for you and answers the questions you had. If not, please let me know.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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  • If you have a current SA agreement with SBS 2003 Premium I wondered if you can do the following:

    1. Leave SBS 2003 on the server hardware it is currently running on.

    2. Install the 2nd Windows Server license that is part of SBS 2008 Premium (either Windows 2003 R2 or Windows 2008 Server) on a new piece of server hardware.

    3. Then install the SQL license that is part of SBS 2008 Premium (either SQL 2008 Standard or SQL 2005 Standard) on the new server.

    At the point down the road (12 to 18 months) that the existing hardware running the SBS 2003 server is ready be replaced we would install SBS 2008 on that replacement server hardware.

  • @ WaltB - What you are asking is if you can use your downgrade rights on your SBS 2008 rights you received through SA and utilize the second Windows Server license in doing so.  The answer is no and is something I covered in my post on October 15th: http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/10/15/9000514.aspx

  • Our customer purchased SBS 2008 Premium Edition from Dell through the Microsoft Open License program.  We need to install Windows Server 2003 on a second server which should not be a problem, but we are unable to figure out where to the get the media/key for this downgrade.  Our customer has spent hours on the phone with Dell and Microsoft and we have looked at the Solutions Pathway page but can't figure out the logistics for this downgrade.

  • @ Dawn - Dawn, I actually published the steps, part #s and contact #s in subsequent posts on the Blog to do this.  Here are the links:

    - Part numbers for the SBS SA benefits media kits you need from my earlier post: http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/12/09/9188009.aspx

    - How do we get the SBS Software Assurance benefits such as: Outlook 2007, Entourage 2008, ISA 2006 + additional Windows Server 2003, and Office SharePoint Designer 2007 now that SBS 2008 is out?: http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/12/05/9180289.aspx

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