Dear Steve Ballmer:

You won’t be getting this email because I’ve decided that the fact that the small number of your customers impacted, combined with the idea that one should “pick our battles”, combined with I’m sure Microsoft is probably sick and tired of hearing from me and MVPs right about now means that I’m not sending this to you.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to vocalize my frustrations and my nagging feeling of unlove here.

Background:  Existing SBS 2011 Standard customer.  Have been on Software Assurance since 2000. 

Problem:  Software Assurance make good offer isn’t making good and leaving me without the needed parts to securely build a replacement platform for what I have.  I feel that Microsoft is leaving me to fend for myself, document my own guidance (and obviously I’ll be sharing it here) .

There’s an old saying “Pick your battles”.  And I’m chosing not to pick this one, but just blog it and get it out of my system.

Details:  Currently as a software assurance customer I get as my “make good” offering one copy of Windows 2012, one copy of Exchange 2010, and the number of Windows and Exchange cals that I have in replacement for the SBS cals I purchased and have SA.  There are plans to support Exchange 2010 on Windows 2012 as it will need Service pack 3 (eta early next year).  Alternatively I can downgrade one of my virtualized instances to Windows 2008 R2 in order to install Exchange 2010 now. 

So I have the following options in order to build a replacement SBS that will be fully supported.  This involves ensuring that only supported items go on Domain controllers:

Option one:  Use downgrade rights for one of the Virtualized instances and downgrade to Windows 2012 Essentials.  This gives me RWA rights (that my current SA rights do not respect that I need) and gives me user set up wizards and integration with an on premise Exchange.  We have received word from the Essentials team that it will support WSUS on it so that I can put that role on the domain controller.  However I am one operating system short as I have no location to place SharePoint.  And I am a customer that DOES use SharePoint in my firm.    So this leaves me one Windows operating system (as SharePoint foundation is free) short of what I need.  Only solution, purchase another copy of Windows 2012 standard, $800 cost.

Option two:  Purchase a copy of Windows 2012 Essentials and install it as an additional virtual machine in my 2012 parent.  With this I can have 2012 Essentials as the DC, then SharePoint in another instance, then Exchange in another instance.  Cost to purchase a Windows 2012 Essentials:  $425.

Both solutions mean that as I roll out of SBS Standard in this Software Assurance make good offer, I’m having to fork out money.  Okay, so honestly not a lot.  But it’s sticking in this beancounter craw of mine that I shouldn’t have to pay any more money especially since I’m on year two of my three year SA agreement and I have one more payment left.  Given that I still have to pay to replace what I already have, I don’t feel that this Software Assurance makes good is good enough.

Software assurance make good should do just that.  It should MAKE ME WHOLE and not leave me with “damages”.  Right now I’m having to figure out how to install, where to install, and what to install to put me in a replacement situation that’s fully supported.

I’m having to take the time to determine the installation, the supportability of all of these parts, to ensure that I can replace my current solution with something that gives equivalent value and technology.  For all that we complain about SBS, the fact that all this stuff was set up for us, you realize how much we’ve (I’ve) gotten used to these install scripts and more importantly for me, the boundaries of support.  SBS and EBS both supported Exchange on a DC – outside of SBS it’s very much frowned upon.

SharePoint is also frowned upon on a DC and SBS is the only platform that allows support. 

Given that as a software assurance customer I’m sure that I’m only .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of Microsoft’s customer base (rounding error in the thousands or more) I’ve decided it’s not worth it, nor do I see this era of Microsoft budging and being reasonable on this.  Unfortunately EBS also got the same “make good” shaft as it too was one Windows license short, so unfortunately the precident was set back then.

The concern for those looking at Essentials and thinking you can easily transmorg or flip from Essentials over to Standard, when you do so, you go from a cal-less Essentials box to a box that needs client user access licenses.  So you get to the 26th user in the firm, get a Windows Standard key, put it in to flip the box from Essentials to Standard to support the 26th user and you need TWENTY-SIX user licenses.  Not 1 license to reflect the additional user, but 26.  You get no credit for the $425 you spent for Essentials.  For a firm that started out with less than 25 users themselves how many years ago, It feels a little unreasonable that growth and credit for existing purchases is not even considered.  So when you read all of those recommendations to simply transmorg – which is wonderful that it’s offered, it’s also may have a bigger price tag than you anticipated.  So go into it with your eyes open.

Also be aware that there are rumors of increasing prices in user cals that may impact us going forward as well.

Okay, I hear you saying, geeze Susan you are being cheap these days, I mean $425 isn’t that much is it? 

This is an accumulatiion of a feeling of Microsoft being really penny pinching in their pricing and no longer offering the discounts for small businesses they once did.  I’ve seen reports that SPLA pricing is going up.  Obviously SMB pricing of Exchange and SQL are gone.  I acknowledge that I am not jumping to the cloud and thus must pay a higher price tag for my on premises needs, but that doesn’t mean I’m not questioning how Microsoft thinks what they are offering me for software assurance is truly a make it right, and questioning how there’s no allowance for growth of customers.

So Steve, I’m not sending this to you because I feel this is a done deal and you guys won’t do anything about it, and I’m saving my battles for another day.

Looking forward to Thursday –

6 Thoughts on “Picking my battles

  1. I too am in year 2 of 3 for SBS2011 SA. If I choose to stay on SBS2011 until it’s no longer supported (well after my SA ends), can I still utilize the “make-good” offering at that time? Or would I need to flip/transmorg/downgrade before my SA ends?

  2. bradley on October 18, 2012 at 9:13 am said:

    The parts will be up on the VLSC web site ready for your use when you are ready to do whatever you plan to do.

  3. “We have received word from the Essentials team that it will support WSUS on it” — Will be happen after GA, right?

    Do you have more information, Susan?

    I installed RTM a few days ago and didn´t find the role. The FAQ pdf´s´don´t reflect this change either. Honestly, I didn´t try to install WSUS manually.

    Anyway, good to know, that they listend to us.



  4. bradley on October 20, 2012 at 10:43 am said:

    There will be an update to enable this

  5. o.K., thanky you, Susan!

  6. Susan, I have 8 clients on SBS 2011 who have SA. On top of that, they all have the premium add on and several RDS CALS. So now that you have pointed out all of that, I am wondering how I am going to make this work without a lot of $$$$$ being spent. Hyper-V host with 2012, child of SBS Essentials 2012, child of Windows 2012 to run Exchange 2010 (in downgrade mode so it is really Windows 2008 R2), and then, where shall I place my RDS server and SQL server? I see now the customer will need to buy two more 2012 server licenses. So that seems to make no sense here. What if I did Windows 2012 Data Center (that is going to be a lot of $$$) and then use my SA licenses for a child of Essentials 2012, a child running 2012 and SQL from my SBS 2011 SA sub, a child running RDS with the Data Center licenses, a child running 2008 R2 downgrade license from 2012 Data Center license and Exchange 2010 from my SA license of SBS 2011. For some reason it seems to me I would be violating some license here, as well as costing me a lot of $$$.

    Maybe the best thing is, Steve you need to step down. Call Bill Gates up and ask him to stop giving away his money for all of these charities and come back and lead Microsoft. Kind of like when Steve Jobs came back to Apple and things got a whole lot better for them.

    Now I am trying to figure out how I am going to explain this to my customers and show any value from their SA subscription.


    Lyle Epstein
    Kortek Solutions

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