New Server-Access Rights From Microsoft

Company execs say the changes will give customers more flexibility in using the software and shouldn't result in higher fees.
Microsoft is changing the way it licenses server-access rights as part of the upcoming release of its Windows .Net Server 2003 operating system.

Company execs say the changes will give customers more flexibility in using the software and shouldn't result in higher fees. But the actual cost of Windows .Net Server 2003, which will ship in four editions, hasn't been set.

There are changes in three areas: the client-access licenses, or CALs, needed to connect to a Windows server; a connector option, which is needed to give customers or business partners access to a company's Windows-based server; and the terminal-services functionality that lets thin clients work with Windows servers.

For now, the licensing changes apply only to Windows .Net Server, though they could be a precursor to similar changes in Microsoft's other server products. "Windows .Net Server is the first one leading this out," says Bob O'Brien, group product manager for Windows .Net Server. Microsoft will announce this week that .Net Server is available in its final beta version, also called release candidate 2. The platform is slated for availability in April.

Until now, Microsoft has given customers the option of licensing client-access licenses by the number of devices that need to connect to a Windows server, or by the number of seats. New with Windows .Net Server will be a per-user option. O'Brien says the per-user option is meant to address the growing number of employees who need to access a server using a variety of different devices. Microsoft will continue to offer the per-device and per-seat options.

The connector change involves how a company's business partners access its Windows servers for supply-chain apps, extranets, or other collaborative environments. In the current licensing scheme, an Internet connector is needed to give customers access to a Windows server, but there's no comparable license for partners. A new so-called external connector, to be used for both partners and customers, replaces the Internet connector. As before, client-access licenses also can be used for customers or partners where needs are more limited.

Finally, Microsoft has new terms for customers wanting to use what until now has been called Terminal Services in Windows servers and which will be renamed Terminal Server in Windows .Net Server. A so-called Terminal Server client-access license will be required for all client devices accessing Terminal Server. Users of Windows XP Professional who purchase the desktop operating system prior to Windows .Net Server's release get a Terminal Server client-access license as part of the deal.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing