With myriad choices and price increases, Windows 2000 Server licensing is proving to be a tricky task for buyers.

Just ask Mark Sager, MCSE, ASE, a senior engineer for Savant Solutions, Inc.—a New York-based provider of IT products, services, and support—who has purchased Windows 2000 licenses for many customers.

“Since our customers use almost exclusively Windows 9x and NT4 on the desktop, upgrades to [Windows 2000 Professional] are simple. You buy the requisite number of upgrade licenses,” Sager said. “On the other hand, when you’re dealing with Server licensing, the waters are a bit muddier.”

For that task, Sager makes sure to gather all the facts and understand a customer’s IT infrastructure before giving his advice.

Before you advise your next client about purchasing or upgrading to Windows 2000 Server, read on to educate yourself about the various versions and licensing choices available so you can be sure to make the right choices for your client’s needs.

The three versions of Windows 2000 Server

The three versions of Windows 2000 Server are partitioned along capacity capabilities, as defined by the number of processors, memory addressability, and clustering. They include:

  • The base Server version of Windows 2000 (like NT v.4), which supports up to four processors. This entry-level version works well for file, print, intranet, and infrastructure servers.
  • The Advanced Server (AS) version, which supports up to eight processors—the same number of processors as NT v.4 Enterprise Edition. AS also offers scalability for running e-commerce and line-of-business applications.
  • The Datacenter Server (DCS) version, Microsoft’s most powerful server operating system to date, which is required for more than eight processors and is designed for enterprises with high demand for availability and scalability.

New licenses are a better buy than upgrades
There’s both good and bad news relating to license prices for Windows 2000 Server. The good news is that pricing is stable for new Windows 2000 Servers and Client Access Licenses (CALs). A new Advanced Server (AS) license costs the same as one for the NT Server v.4 Enterprise Edition. New Windows 2000 Server CAL pricing is unchanged from the server CAL pricing on NT Server v.4. On the other hand, Terminal Services (TS) CALs have decreased as much as 21 percent as compared to TS CALs on NT Server v.4.

Gartner—an IT research firm based in Stamford, CT—notes that although there is no difference in pricing for CALs between the three server versions of Windows 2000, Microsoft is likely to break up its CAL pricing based on the capacity of the Windows server accessed by the end of 2002.

Another reason to buy new licenses vs. purchasing upgrades is that there have been significant price increases for upgrades from NT to Windows 2000 Server and for CAL upgrades. For instance, the standard Win2000 Server license—the most common license purchased—will cost as much as 24 percent more than the standard NT Server v.4. In addition, Windows 2000 Upgrade Advantage (UA) is now 23 percent of the annual license fee and does not include technical support. UA pricing increased 121 percent for Windows 2000 Server and 82 percent for the CAL compared to NT v.4.

Pricing of Windows 2000 licenses (courtesy of Gartner)

Acronym key

  • AS—Advanced Server
  • CAL—Client Access License
  • DCS—Datacenter Server
  • EA—Enterprise Agreement
  • TS—Terminal Services
  • UA—Upgrade Advantage

Understanding Windows 2000’s Client Access Licenses
For the Windows 2000 Server operating system, Microsoft requires a server license for each server and a CAL for every device authenticating with the server. CALs can be licensed per seat or per server. Here’s a rundown of the differences:

  • Per-seat licensingrequires a CAL for each workstation or other device that connects to any licensed server. With per-seat licensing for Windows 2000 Server CAL, client computers are allowed access to any server within a Windows 2000 Server-based network, as long as each client machine is licensed with the appropriate Windows 2000 Server CAL.
  • Per-server licensingallows users to connect a set number of devices to a licensed server at a given time. Customers also need to purchase a sufficient number of server CALs to cover all the concurrent users of that server. The server assigns temporary Windows 2000 Server CALs to client computers, so there is no permanent Windows 2000 Server CAL associated with a specific client machine.

The per-seat license will be the best option for most customers because today’s businesses normally have distributed computing environments where multiple servers provide services to clients. Theper-server license only makes sense for scenarios such as Remote Access Service, CD-ROM servers, or the initial server of a planned larger deployment. Sager said he generally advises his customers to purchase per-seat licensing.

“Obviously, the type of upgrade is dependent on the server OS version in place,” he said. He also advises his peers to shop around for a good reseller, because “there are a lot of competitive upgrades” available at present.

Share your thoughts

How do you advise customers on Windows 2000 Server? Which do you think is the better option: per-seat or per-server licensing? Post a comment below or send us a note.