As Complex As It Gets: Windows 2000 Licenses
Windows 2000 licensing can be complex if your needs go beyond the basics. Our intrepid reporter sorts it all out, and offers some hints on where you can get the best deals for your company's needs.
- By Mike Gunderloy
- March 01, 2000
As I was wandering through various Microsoft Web sites
trying to sort out the pricing levels for Windows 2000,
I came across the assertion that they'd simplified the
pricing for this new release of Windows. If this is simplified,
I don't want to see what they consider complex! In this
article, I'll review the costs and options involved in
bringing Win2K to your organization, and try to point
out places where you might save a few bucks. With luck,
you won't spend as much time reading mind-numbing Web
pages as I did.
Windows 2000 Itself
Let's start with the easiest part of the pricing picture:
Win2K Professional, the desktop version of the operating
system. If you just want to get a box containing Win2K
Professional, the list price is $319. (Unless indicated
otherwise, all prices in this article are list prices).
If you want a version upgrade or product upgrade package,
that goes down to $219. What's the difference? Well, a
version upgrade is an upgrade from Windows NT Workstation
version 3.51 or 4.0, and a product upgrade is an upgrade
from any flavor of Windows 95 or Windows 98. But wait!
The version upgrade box contains a $70 rebate coupon,
making the final cost of upgrading your NT 4.0 Workstation
computer to run Win2K Professional only $149.
Next up the ladder of Win2K versions is Win2K Server.
This is the version that supports four-way symmetric multiprocessing
(SMP) and up to 4G of memory. With the server products,
you get into the complexity of client pricing; you need
to buy licenses for both the server and for the computers
that will be using services from that server. I'll cover
the details of client access licenses (CALs) in the next
section. For now, here's the basic pricing:
||With 5 CALs
|Windows 2000 Server
|Windows 2000 Server, version
or competitive upgrade
For Win2K Server, a version upgrade is an upgrade from
NT Server version 3.51 or version 4.0. A competitive upgrade
is an upgrade from any of a wide variety of other server
- Novell NetWare, IntranetWare, IntranetWare for Small
- Banyan Vines
- IBM LAN Server, OS/2
- Microsoft LAN Manager
- DEC PATHWORKS
- Artisoft LANtastic
- SCO Xenix, UNIX, OpenServer, or UnixWare
- Sun Solaris, Solaris X86, or SunOS
- Hewlett-Packard HP-UX
- IBM AIX
- Digital Ultrix, OSF/1, or UNIX
- SGI Irix
Note the large discount for a competitive upgrade. There's
an opportunity here to save some money, if you already
have or can find a copy of one of the other server products
at a reasonable price. For example, a quick Web search
turned up a copy of the 10-user version of Lantastic 8.0
for $350. Add on the Win2K Server competitive upgrade,
and you've got a 10-user Win2K license for $949 instead
of $1,199. If you can find an unopened copy of some obsolete
server product (seen any LAN Manager boxes lately?) on
the shelves at your local reseller, it's likely to cost
even less than that.
The third product to be released in February is Win2K
Advanced Server. This version supports eight-way SMP,
8G of RAM, and two-node clustering. Pricing for this version
depends on what you're upgrading from. If you just want
to buy Win2K Advanced Server and put it on a new computer,
the price (with 25 CALs) is $3,999. But you can save money
with the various upgrades (all pricing is for 25-CAL packages):
|Win2K Advanced Server Upgrade
|Version Upgrade from NT
Server 3.51, 4.0, 4.0 Terminal Server Edition
|Version Upgrade from NT
Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition
|Version Upgrade from Win2K
Note that once again there's a substantial discount for
a competitive upgrade package. Microsoft really wants
you to switch to Win2K on your high-end servers, even
at the cost of leaving itself open to "instant upgrades."
Finally, Microsoft has announced Win2K DataCenter Server.
This version will support 32-way SMP, 64G of RAM, and
four-node clustering. Pricing for this version hasn't
been announced yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see
a base price in five figures rather than four.
Client Access Licenses
Now, what about those client access licenses? The basic
rule is that you need a CAL for each computer with a user
that makes use of Win2K authentication or Win2K services.
An authenticated user is one that uses Win2K Server sign-on
directly or who receives credentials via Win2K Active
Directory services. You also need a CAL for each user
who uses file services, printing services, or Remote Access
Services on a Win2K Server. Finally, you need a CAL for
the use of Windows 2000 Terminal Services (but these CALs
have separate pricing from the others).
When you purchase CALs, you can decide whether to deploy
them in per-seat or per-server mode. A per-seat license
is associated with a single workstation and gives it the
right to use every Win2K server on the network. A per-server
license is associated with a particular server, and gives
it the right to service a request from a single client
at a time. Generally speaking, you'll find per-seat mode
cheapest when you have multiple servers on your network,
and per-server mode cheapest when you have a single server.
You can switch from per-server mode to per-seat mode once.
You can't switch from per-seat mode to per-server mode.
In any case, you don't need to notify Microsoft of the
mode you've selected.
Terminal Services is licensed in per-seat mode only.
You need to buy a Terminal Services CAL for each client
computer that will run applications via Terminal Services.
Finally, there's also an Internet Connector License.
In fact, there are two Internet Connector Licenses, one
for Win2K Server, and one for Win2K Terminal Services.
Though they sound similar, they're actually quite different.
A Win2K Server Internet Connector License allows an unlimited
number of clients to use Win2K Server authentication over
the Internet. Note that for most Internet services, you
won't need this license. For example, anonymous WWW and
FTP users aren't being authenticated, so you don't need
an Internet Connector License for them. Microsoft Site
Server includes its own authentication code, so it doesn't
require an Internet Connector License either. But, for
example, if you allow users to connect to your server
via the Internet and then log in to SQL Server using NT
Authentication, that use does require an Internet Connector
The Win2K Terminal Server Internet Connector License
is somewhat different. This license allows the server
to service up to 200 concurrent connections without separate
Terminal Services CALs. This license can only be used
for anonymous connections from non-employees, is only
available through the Microsoft Select program, and seems
obviously directed at Application Service Providers (ASPs).
Here's how the CAL pricing stacks up:
|Upgrade CAL (from NT 4.0
or competitive software CAL)
|Terminal Services CAL
|Terminal Services upgrade
CAL (form NT 4.0 Terminal Services CAL)
The Internet Connector License for Win2K lists at $1,999,
while the Terminal Services Internet Connector License
lists for $9,999.
Resellers and Other Discounts
Clearly, buying server and client licenses for Win2K
can be an expensive proposition. What can you do to lower
For starters, consider shopping online. Even Microsoft's
own store, http://shop.microsoft.com,
does better than list price on some packages. For example,
they list the 25-CAL version of Win2K Server at $1,719
instead of $1,799. It's a small discount, but it's something.
You can do better through major resellers such as Egghead
or PC Connection (www.pccconnection.com).
Depending on the package, I found online discounts ranging
from 15 to 30 percent. The problem with online shopping
is that you'd better know exactly what you want and what
they're selling. If a price looks too good to be true,
it probably is. For example, if you find a site offering
Win2K Server with five CALs for $489, it's almost certainly
the version upgrade package rather than the full package.
If you'll need more than 1,000 licenses over the course
of two years, you should enroll in the Microsoft Select
program. Microsoft Select is an audited bulk license-buying
program that offers a sliding scale of substantial discounts
depending on the number of units you commit to purchasing.
For more information on Microsoft Select, visit http://www.microsoft.com/enterprise/licensing/Select.htm
Finally, if you're purchasing Win2K for your own use
in learning, rather than for a corporate deployment, don't
overlook the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) program,
. A subscription to MSDN Professional includes Win2K as
well as the complete BackOffice product suite (and much
else besides) for $699. The major catch is that there
is a hard-wired 10-connection limit for the server; this
isn't a cheap way to buy a copy for your business. But
it's a great way for the MCSE faced with certification
upgrade requirements to get his or her hands on the shipping
Win2K code for a reasonable price. In addition, if your
company is a Microsoft Solution Provider, or you've gotten
your MCDBA or MCSD certification, you can get a $200 rebate
on an MSDN Professional subscription (see http://www.microsoft.com/mcp/newbenfaq.htm
for details on the rebate program).