Upgrading Microsoft SBS with Expired SA

Upgrading Microsoft SBS with Expired SAI recently had a call with Microsoft to try and upgrade a client off of Small Business Server (SBS) 2011. The client’s Software Assurance (SA) expired, but according to Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Product List:

New Version Rights

New Version Rights means, for any underlying licensed Product for which SA coverage is ordered, the right to upgrade to, and run in place of the underlying licensed Product, the latest version of that Product made available during the covered period. Use of the new version is subject to the license terms for that version. Customers that acquire perpetual licenses through SA can deploy the upgrades after their coverage has expired.

Unfortunately, I encountered some difficulty in my call with Microsoft, trying to convince them that I could, in fact, upgrade a client with an expired SA license. However, when I called the pre-sales department, the representative there confirmed that yes, we could utilize the expired SA. There is some ambiguity around the language. When I asked my licensing specialist, Seth Rodriquez, he said:

This statement could be interpreted in two ways, so I’m not surprised Microsoft gave you two answers.

  • Interpretation 1: You have to acquire the keys while your SA is still valid and but then you can wait to deploy it. Even if your coverage has expired, you can still deploy it using those keys.
  • Interpretation 2: You can acquire the keys today for any version of the product that was available when your SA expired even if the expiration date has already passed.

So your success with Microsoft may vary, depending on who you talk to. But in my humble opinion, you should be able to get the keys even after the coverage has expired (Interpretation 2).

If you’re planning on utilizing an expired SA to try and upgrade off of Standard SBS, you can request the following licenses:

  • Windows Server Standard
  • Exchange

If you want Windows Server Essentials, you can get licenses for Standard and downgrade. It’s also important to note that with your SBS server license, you should’ve already gotten five client access licenses (CALs). When you upgrade, you receive the equivalent amount of CALs. If you had the SBS Premium Add-On, then you’re also eligible for a SQL Server license and some SQL CALs.

It’s important to be aware of when your SA expired. For example, depending on when you dropped it, you might be eligible for Server 2012 but not R2.

If your SA is not expired yet but you’re planning on letting it do so, go ahead and get your licenses now to avoid ping-ponging around Microsoft’s customer service phone tree.

If you have questions about how to take advantage of SA or need help upgrading your SBS servers, call us at 502-240-0404 or send us an email!