Guy Haycock here - SBS Product Manager.   While many of you will be following the news and excitement around the release of Windows Server 2003 R2 today, we wanted to be sure that you saw the related news on Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 (SBS 2003 R2). This is the release 2 (R2) update to SBS 2003.

SBS 2003 R2 is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2006. So what’s new in the product you ask? Simply put  -  SBS 2003 R2 will help small businesses improve their productivity through:
      • Automated, network-wide patch and update management for all Microsoft Update supported products, lowering the costs of managing a Microsoft-based network and helping to maintain a more secure network
      • Increased mailbox limits from 16 GB to 75 GB, enabling improved productivity for employees
      • Inclusion of SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition technology in SBS 2003 R2 Premium Edition
      • Expanded client access license (CAL) rights, including access to additional Exchange Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition servers in the SBS 2003 R2 network, allowing customers more flexibility in growth

Once it’s available, here’s how you can get Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2:
• SBS customers with Software Assurance* will be able to obtain SBS 2003 R2 without purchasing a new server license for a nominal shipping and handling fee through their normal fulfillment channel. Your Software Assurance contract must be active when SBS 2003 R2 releases to manufacturing.
• SBS customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase a new version upgrade SKU via retail, which will enable them to cost-effectively upgrade from any version of SBS (4.0, 4.5, 2000, 2003) to SBS 2003 R2.

You’ll also see that we are planning to offer a “Technology Guarantee” program. For a limited time, beginning March 1, 2006, if you purchase SBS 2003 from an original equipment manufacturer or a system builder, you can receive SBS 2003 R2 for a nominal shipping and handling fee, once released-to-market.  The Technology Guarantee will be available from March 1, 2006 to 60 days after SBS 2003 R2 releases-to-manufacturing (will vary by geography).

We’re very excited about the advantages that SBS 2003 R2 will bring to our small business customers. We will continue to keep you updated as we get closer to release to manufacturing. You can check back here for further updates, or go to our product site for more details: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/r2/default.mspx .

- Guy Haycock, SBS Senior Product Manager