The five free CALs, valued at roughly $500, will be available to existing customers and new purchasers of the standard and premium editions of the server software from January 5, 2004 though February 5, 2004, sources said.
The free five-pack will be offered in addition to the existing five CALs that come with the server. Currently, the standard edition with five CALs is $599 while the premium edition with five CALs is $1,499. Additional CALs usually cost $99 each.
One observer and consultant who specializes in Small Business Server said he finds it refreshing that Microsoft is making amends with the channel and customers.
"Hats off to Microsoft for acknowledging some pain and suffering in the SBS community over the Windows SharePoint Services glitch in late November of 2003," said Harry Brelsford, principal of SMB Nation, a Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based consultancy. "Microsoft has historically had a difficult time making these types of admissions and I see this SBS 2003 CAL offer and dialog as a sign of Microsoft's maturity."