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Making Amends: Microsoft Gives Away SBS CALs

Microsoft is offering an olive branch to Windows Small Business Server 2003 customers after an embarrassing problem with Windows SharePoint Services blocked users during installation of Small Business Server, which boasts ease-of-installation among its most important features.

On Monday, Microsoft began a one-month-long giveaway of five Client Access Licenses for both the Standard and Premium editions of Windows Small Business Server 2003. Customers with a valid Windows Small Business Server 2003 product ID are eligible for one 5-pack CAL through Feb. 5. Customers can get one free 5-pack CAL for each licensed copy of the server software and may choose either user or device CALs.

In a statement, Microsoft positioned the giveaway as a "response to the Windows SharePoint Services and Windows Small Business Server 2003 installation issue."

Harry Brelsford, an author and consultant specializing in Small Business Server, credits Microsoft for acknowledging pain and suffering among customers over the glitch.

"Microsoft has historically had a difficult time making these types of admissions," Brelsford said. "I see this SBS 2003 CAL offer and dialog as a sign of Microsoft maturity. It's greatly welcomed and will go a long way towards building trust around SBS 2003."

Microsoft acknowledged the problem the first week of December. The problem arose from an installation issue with Windows SharePoint Services, an add-on for Windows Server 2003. Windows Small Business Server 2003 relies heavily on Windows SharePoint Services to help small organizations with limited IT staff create intranet sites for collaboration.

The way that certain dynamic-link libraries (DLLs) were validated caused the validation to fail if the system date was Nov. 24 or later. Microsoft originally offered a workaround that required users to change their system clocks and then reset the clocks after installation.

Users who had successfully installed Windows Small Business Server 2003 before Nov. 24 didn't encounter the problem but are still eligible for the free CALs. Microsoft now has an update available for download or over Windows Update and the company is mailing new installation discs for customers who already licensed Windows Small Business Server 2003.

Details of the issue, workarounds and the link to the sign-up form for the free 5-CAL pack can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/techinfo/sharepointinstall.mspx.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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