How do I still get SBS 2003 R2 + Software Assurance in October since it was removed from the Volume License pricelists? Final Solution.

A topic of many conversations since the beginning of October, as well as over the SMB Nation weekend where I told those of you in attendance that we are working on a potential solution and would get back to you as soon as we had one, is the fact that SBS 2003 SKUs were removed from the Volume Licensing pricelists on October 1st and were replaced by the SBS 2008 SKUs. What this means is:

  1. In the month of October, there is no way to purchase SBS 2003 with Software Assurance through any Volume Licensing program.
  2. Even though SBS 2003 is still available through Retail Box (FPP) and OEM and Software Assurance can be added to an FPP or OEM server license within 90 days of purchasing it, Software Assurance can only be added to the CURRENT VERSION of software within 90 days of purchase. With SBS 2008 being released October 1st, SBS 2003 is no longer the current version, meaning you can no longer purchase Software Assurance to add to a Retail Box or OEM SBS 2003 license purchased on or after October 1, 2008.
  3. Which ultimately means there is no way to purchase an SBS 2003 License with Software Assurance in the month of October, which was a point of confusion for many Partners who were under the impression that they had until October 31st in order to get their SBS 2003 L+SA orders in.

This is what we have been working on day in and day out for the past few weeks to find a solution for to help our Partners out who are in this situation. And believe me, the number of solutions we have run through the tests to see if we could use them has been unbelievable. Finally, we have come up with the solution for Partners that wish to get their clients SBS 2003 licenses with Software Assurance that will work and can be executed in a timely manner, and here it is:

Microsoft will make a limited-time exception to the Software Assurance policy, which states that Software Assurance can only be attached to the latest software version for SBS 2003 R2. So now it will be possible to attach Software Assurance to SBS 2003 R2 SKUs, despite SBS 2008 being on the VL price list starting October 1st and this exception has been granted until 12/31/2008. This means that Partners who have sold SBS 2003 R2 between 10/1/08 and 12/31/08 will be able to attach Software Assurance to it within 90 days of the SBS 2003 R2 purchase.

In addition, because we are aware of the fact that the SBS 2003 R2 license does cost more through Retail Box than it did through the Open License programs, we are going to be increasing the SBS 2003 R2 deployment rebate by the net difference between the Retail Box ERP and the Open License (L) ERP so that ultimately, the customers are paying the same for the SBS license that they would have through Open License. What this means is that the deployment rebate amount for SBS 2003 Standard R2 will increase by $50 and the deployment rebate amount for SBS 2003 Premium R2 will increase by $100.

So, if you are looking to get your clients an SBS 2003 R2 Server license with Software Assurance, here is what you should do:

  1. Purchase a Retail Box SBS 2003 R2 Server license from your distributor
  2. Add Software Assurance to it within 90 days of the purchase (best off to do it on the same order to make sure you get it added)
  3. Follow the steps to claim the SBS 2003 R2 deployment rebate for your client

To make it easier for you, below are the Part #s you would use to add Software Assurance to the SBS Standard or Premium licenses. You will notice two options for each:

The first is the Part # you would use if you would like to take advantage of the spread payments benefit of Open Value. This part # would be the one you would sell and bill your clients for in Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 of the Agreement.

The second is the Part # you would use if you would like to pay for the full three years of Software Assurance benefits up-front instead of spreading out the payments over three years. It is also the one you would use if you plan on processing this order through Microsoft Financing for spread payments.

SBS Standard:

  • Software Assurance 1st year payment (spread payments): Part #: T72-00893
  • Software Assurance with 3 years paid up-front: Part #: T72-00897

SBS Premium:

  • Software Assurance 1st year payment (spread payments): Part #: T75-00935
  • Software Assurance with 3 years paid up-front: Part #: T75-00937

Thank you to everyone for their patience as we have been working through this and trying to determine what solution(s) we could put in place here in October to address the concerns raised by our Partners about not being able to provide a way to get their clients SBS 2003 R2 server licenses with Software Assurance here in October. The solution above will provide you a way to do just that. Granted, it is not the exact same as buying the L+SA SKU through the Open License programs; however, with those SKUs being removed on October 1st, the L+SA SKU was no longer an option as a solution.

And before anyone says, “You should have just added it back to the October pricelist,” believe me, if it were just that simple, we would have. There was no way to get the SKUs added back onto the pricelist for October (and we tried evaluating many different ways to possibly make this happen), which meant we had to find an alternative solution. The solution above is the absolute best one available given the circumstances. Plus, the solution above not only gives you an answer for October, it provides an additional window of opportunity for you all the way through December 31, 2008.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights

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Comments (19)

  1. Mark Berry says:

    Sounds good…except for the client who was planning on buying through Open Charity in October.  Is there a "Charity Retail" license?  Are the charities just out of luck or is there an alternative?  (BTW I’m talking about a church in this case, so TechSoup is not an option.)

  2. DV says:

    Can I purchase SBS 2003 OEM instead of the FPP?

  3. I received an inquiry from a Partner today stating that they had read my “ How do I still get SBS 2003

  4. mssmallbiz says:

    @ DV – Yes, if your clients are buying new servers with SBS 2003 R2 OEM on them prior to 12/31/2008, the same ability to add Software Assurance within 90 days applies.

  5. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Mark Berry – Mark, no, there is not a Charity Retail program; however, through the Open Charity Program, they are already receiving significant discounts that would outweigh those listed above for non-charity qualified 501(c)3 institutions.  We have more information available on the Open Charity Program available online at:

  6. Robert Gutman says:

    This solution excludes being able to use the Big Easy 2.0 offer

    From Terms Document:

    License Exclusions Partner subsidy dollars are not earned or available for purchases of the following licenses:

     Any Software Assurance ("SA") only purchase; except Open Value Software Assurance if purchased with an OEM License as described under "Eligible Licenses". Software Assurance must be purchased within ninety days of the L purchase.

  7. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Robert – Correct.  Purchasing the Retail BOx version of SBS and adding SA will not qualify for the Big Easy Offer.  Purchasing the SBS 2008 through the Volume Licensing Programs will though.

  8. Frank says:

    The links to the sbsrebate do not work.

  9. Don Oas says:

    Great news for SBS 2003.  Is it also possible to obtain SBS 2003 CALS and SA, or just the base product?

  10. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Don – Yes, you can follow the same method and acquire Retail Box CALs, or the OEM CALs if acquiring new server hardware, before 12/31/2008 and add the Software assurance within 90 days.

  11. I have been seeing and receiving several questions in regards to my, “ How do I still get SBS 2003

  12. Bob N. says:


    I have several retail copies of SBS 2003 R2 Standard sitting in my inventory.  Why they are there is a long story.  Is there any way I can get SA for these units if I cannot verify when I acquired them?

  13. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Bob N. – Bob, the 90 day window to add Software Assurance starts from the day the end customer purchases the SBS license, not you, since it is them who are buying and adding the Software Assurance to their license.  Make sense?

  14. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Frank – Thank you for the note on the site.  They were making some modifications and updates to the site and it should be back online now.

  15. Bob N. says:


    That makes perfect sense to me.  However, the first two points quoted below from this blog were what prompted the question:

    1. Purchase a Retail Box SBS 2003 R2 Server license from your distributor

    2. Add Software Assurance to it within 90 days of the purchase (best off to do it on the same order to make sure you get it added)

    3. Follow the steps to claim the SBS 2003 R2 deployment rebate for your client

    So, based on the sale date to my client by me, if I sell a new SBS 2003 R2 installation before 12/21/08 using one of the retail copies in my inventory, I should be able to contact my disti of choice and add SA.  Is that correct?

  16. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Bob – Yes, it works as you have stated it.  Within 90 days of the client purchasing the SBS Server from you, assuming they purchase the SBS Server prior to 12/31/2008, the client can add Software Assurance to it.

  17. Ok, this is a complete wholesale copy and paste from a co-workers blog. It's THAT IMPORTANT… -

  18. Guest post from the Aussie SBSC PAL – Hilton Travis. See post 1 here and 2 here . Enjoy.   Well,

  19. Earlier today I received a question coming from a Partner in South Africa asking about my “ How do I