Microsoft's plans for the .NET future are still coalescing, but the company's change from shrink-wrapped software to Web-delivered services is already affecting SQL Server's licensing model. With the release of the first-generation .NET Enterprise Servers, such as SQL Server 2000, Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, and all the servers in the Microsoft BackOffice 2000 suite, Microsoft is instituting a new licensing model. The new model might cause confusion among IT managers still reeling from attempts to understand Client Access Licenses (CALs) from previous versions of the server products and the BackOffice suite.

The new model is based on per-processor licensing rather than CALs, and Microsoft says that the pricing structure will simplify the complexity and eliminate the inconsistency of previous licensing schemes. Microsoft expects most new installations of its server software to run across the Internet, and this expectation is driving the new licensing model. Under the new licensing model, customers will need a processor license for each processor that runs the server software. The processor license includes unlimited access for users who connect to the server through a local network, through a WAN, or outside the network firewall. So CALs, Internet connector licenses, and additional server licenses are history for most .NET Enterprise Servers, such as Commerce Server 2000, Application Center 2000, and Host Integration Server 2000.

For SQL Server, however, licensing is more complex. In Web-based situations, customers can use the new processor license. However, Microsoft will continue to offer CALs and server licenses—as it did with SQL Server 7.0—for enterprises that will use the product in a non-Web environment. Customers who purchased SQL Server 7.0 after June 19 can upgrade to SQL Server 2000 for free. For details, see Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 Technology Guarantee at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/productinfo/2000guar.htm.