Microsoft Corp. on Monday finally released the licensing and pricing options for its upcoming Windows Server 2003 family, which is slated for shipment in late April.
The licensing model consists of a server operating system license and incremental Client Access Licenses (CALs) “and is designed to allow for complete scalability of your cost in relation to your usage,” Microsoft said.
Retail pricing for the different products starts at $399 for the Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, Microsofts Web server product that requires no CALs. The standard server product, known as the Standard Edition, is priced at $999 and includes five user or device CALs. The enterprise server product, the companys Enterprise Edition, costs $3,999 and includes 25 user or device CALs. Microsoft did not disclose the pricing and licensing terms of the top-of-the-range Datacenter Edition, which is only available through qualified OEMs
Pricing for additional Windows Server 2003 user of device CALs is $199 for five and $799 for 20. Additional Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server user or device CALs are also available at $749 for five and $2,669 for 20.
Windows Server 2003 licenses for external users accessing the server software are available for $1,999, while an additional license for external users accessing Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server will cost $7,999—but both of these products are only available through Microsofts volume licensing programs.
In comparison, Microsofts Windows 2000 Web site offers for $999 retail the Windows 2000 standard server with five CALs, or for $1,199 with 10 CALs. Windows 2000 Advanced Server is priced at $3,999 for the standard enterprise product and 25 CALs, while the Datacenter Server is also only available through qualified OEMs.
Bob OBrien, Microsofts group product manager for Windows Server 2003, told eWEEK in an interview on Monday that the prices for Windows Server 2003 are essentially the same as for Windows Server 2000.
“The price has remained the same for each of the Windows 2000 Server products with the corresponding Windows Server 2003 product,” he said.
But, with Windows Server 2003, Microsoft now allows customers to buy five CAL packs rather than the minimum of 10 CALs that had to be bought for Windows Server 2000. “We are also offering the Windows Server 2003 Web edition, a new entrant in our server family.
“Microsoft is also trying to line up all its pricing to follow the same corporate pattern so as to be predictible and consistent, so not only have we held the line in terms of pricing with Windows 2003, but all of the standard discounting schedules for volume server licenses now match the rest of the company. So we are now consistent as a company in our volume pricing across the board,” OBrien said.
Asked about the ongoing call from customers for lower software prices to match falls in hardware prices, OBrien said that Windows Server 2003 prices are actually lower in real terms and will give customers a rapid return on investment in terms of immediate cost saving.
The actual pricing levels for Windows Server 2003 follow Microsofts early December announcement of licensing changes for the server family. The company said at that time that a TS CAL (Terminal Server Client Access License) would be required for all client devices that access the server, regardless of which Windows version is used.
This is a shift from the previous situation, in which users deploying both Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 on the client and server were automatically granted user access rights to Terminal Services at no cost.
Microsoft customers said charging for each Windows client to access Terminal Server in .Net Server 2003 appears to be another attempt to push customers not yet running Windows XP to upgrade.
To encourage users to upgrade, Microsoft said it is offering a free Windows .Net Server 2003 TS CAL to those customers who already have Windows XP Professional, have their Windows desktop under an Enterprise Agreement or Software Assurance plan, or buy Windows XP Pro before the server is available.
Those who do not upgrade but still want or need to use the Terminal Server functionality will have to pay for this access, Microsoft said.
This licensing change follows Microsofts controversial Licensing 6 program, which took effect in August. Customers had to sign up for two- or three-year Software Assurance maintenance contracts, which allowed them to receive all applicable product upgrades over that period. Those who did not sign on will have to pay the full price for future upgrades.
Microsoft has admitted that the changes were poorly handled and that small and medium-size companies had been hit with price increases.
Sun Microsystems Inc. has also entered the licensing fray, and last week threw down the price gauntlet to Microsoft customers, offering to cut by half the cost of any Microsoft Software Assurance licensing agreement for the desktop.
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