So I was mean today.  You see I called 1-800-426-9400 and punched the numbers to ask for a licensing specialists for small businesses [less than 50 desktops] and I asked “Mark” some questions.  You see …it was a test… I knew what the answers were… I just wanted to see if the Microsoft Licensing department knew the right answers as well.  Outside of the US, you can call the phone numbers here.

It was a test actually… to see if I could find a resource for ‘mere mortals’ to find info on MS licensing that was SmallBiz sized.  Now we already have the wonderful information from the portal but I was looking to see if a customer could find out this info.

So here’s what I asked…and what Mark answered:

On SBS what’s the first five cals?  Are they user or device?

How can I add SA to the OEM product?

Can OEM software be bought without hardware?  Can I buy it say…with a mouse?

What’s the difference between user cals and device cals?  Which one should I choose for the Small Business Server platform?

And Mark, whomever you are, you knew your stuff.  And if somehow this blog post gets back to you…. sorry for being a sneak and putting you on the spot, but I was seeing if I could find a person who had enough SBSized information about licensing.  And Mark did.

Mark said that the first five cals are either user or device cals.  That you decide which way they are.  That all you had to do to add Software Assurance to a product you bought via OEM channel was to add it within the first 90 days after purchase.  He said that to buy OEM software, that you had to buy an entire computer, that it was attached to the system.  That I might see some system builders out there that were selling them with a cord or a mouse because that used to be how some of the wording was, but now days only system builders could sell OEM software to other system builders without a ‘system’ to go with it.  He said that it would be wise to stay away from such places, that I still might see them on the web.  He then talked about User versus Device cals and how, in my Small Business Server which has Exchange, and thus Outlook Web Access, that I might want to pick User.  In fact he went on to say that most small businesses buy “user cals”, because we tend to have flexible users that can access things from many devices, but that there might be a time that I would want “device cals” if say… I had 50 desktops and 100 employees and they all used those 50 devices.

Sometimes, just knowing who to contact and get the right informtion is the key element in success.  I’ll give another example of this…a source for buying the licenses once you’ve figured out what you need that I like is a vendor who specializes in nothing but.  Sometimes I think we end up trying to wear too many hats.  Software Licensing is sometimes [okay a lot] confusing, but I know that I have had a lot less headaches since I’ve been in the habit of sending off an email to the gang at and just telling them what I want and they come back with the SKU numbers I need.

So how about instead of getting that licensing headache… you instead pick up a phone and make a call.

Say hi to Mark for me, will ya?


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