SBS 2008 Premium – Downgrade rights for 2nd Server


Just last night I posted an email to the MSSMALLBIZ yahoogroup. At that point I knew that many of us in the community had pushed hard on Microsoft to provide downgrade rights for the 2nd Server to allow it to become Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition.

Susan – it’s not about software that won’t support W2008/SQL2008 in a years time. It’s about the software that does not support W2008 NOW that is the issue. THAT will hamper our efforts to sell SBS 2008 NOW to the clients as they will be FORCED to purchase an additional W2003 license to run their LOB application. In the EBS market space, I don’t think this is as big an issue as an extra $1500 AUD for a server license will go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. However in the SBS world, it will be an issue for sure.

In my opinion, Microsoft have applied flawed thinking in their decision to not offer downgrade rights for the 2nd W2008 Server license in SBS 2008 Premium. When they planned this out, they allowed that many SQL applications will not be supported on SQL 2008 for some time after release and therefore they decided to ship SQL2005 with the product for 12 months. They should have KNOWN that the same conditions would apply to Windows Server 2008 given the huge changes to it under the covers from Windows Server 2003. In my opinion, it is this flawed logic that I have a concern with more so than anything else. Bear in mind that Windows Server 2008 was released in Feb 2008 and many application vendors will not have even considered testing their software on it until they had access to the final W2008 code.

Will Microsoft do anything about it now? I suspect not. I suspect that they will not get the feedback from the community that this is indeed a serious issue. I suspect that the majority of resellers will in fact "find a way" to allow the customer to run Windows Server 2003 on the 2nd server and not correctly license them. I suspect that the majority of resellers will be tired of beating their head on the wall and just work around the issue. When they do this, we all loose. Microsoft will go on blissfully unaware of the fact that people are doing this (or choosing to ignore it) and therefore will not make the changes to the product that we all believe they need to make. I’m a great believer in that if we tell Microsoft enough that they will make a change for the better. On this one issue, given what I’ve seen thus far posted by Eric Ligman here and on his blog, and the private discussions I’ve had with other people in MS who made the decision, I do not believe a change will happen. This is certainly disappointing.

As for the list of applications that won’t be supported on Windows Server 2008 – try adding the #1 accounting application used here in Australia – MYOB. Currently they have no released plan for when they will officially support it on Windows Server 2008 either as a file server or as a terminal server. Now Australia is only #4 in the world in terms of units shipped (according to MS AU – Robbie Upcroft), so I guess we don’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things 🙁

Anyway – enough of my rant – I’m sure to raise someone’s ire with this.


Well – less than 24 hours later, I can report that I now know that Microsoft will shortly make an announcement that I am told will reverse my comments above and allow the 2nd Server to be downgraded to Windows Server 2003.  Thank you.  Thank you Microsoft for listening to our needs. It means we can more likely sell MORE SBS 2008 Premium, and I predict that we will see a change of the normal 80/20 Standard vs Premium mix that has been the traditional model for SBS 2003 sales in the past.  Watch out for an official announcement once they get their ducks all in a row.

Category: SBS 2008 / Cougar
Published: 22/10/2008 8:01 AM

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