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The R2 Penalty

By Steve Jones,

http://pediatricinc.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/penalty.jpgI read a post recently that a DBA noted that the new SQL Server 2008 R2 would force him to pay for features that he did not need. I countered that he didn't need to upgrade, and wouldn't need to pay for those features, but he then made a great point.

Once the next version is released, you often cannot buy the previous version.

So even though he might need to put up a new SQL Server 2008 server, he would essentially need to "buy" the new version of the software, SQL Server 2008 R2, pay for that (more expensive) license, and then downgrade to SQL Server 2008.

Wow.

That's an interesting way of increasing prices on your customers, even those that don't want your latest product. In most businesses, because they deal with physical inventory, they don't subtly increase their prices in this manner. If there is older inventory available and the customer wants it, you let them pay the old price, or maybe even a discounted price to reduce inventory. However in software, with no back inventory, you can instantly remove the previous version, force customers to buy the new version, and increase your prices.

Is this fair? I'm not sure. On one hand, Microsoft is a business, and they certainly have the right to do this. Just as we have the right to move to Oracle, DB2, or some other platform. However it seems a little unfair to me. In my mind, as long as Microsoft is providing support, they ought to continue to sell previous versions. Those versions might not come with 5 years of support, say in the situation where you bought SQL Server 2005 today, but as long as that's disclosed, why not allow people to buy SQL Server 2005?

I know that SQL Server 2008 did not come with a price increase over SQL Server 2005, so perhaps it's time prices rose. However for those people that still are looking to deploy SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008, are they going to be hit with an unexpected price increase in May? I don't know, but if you plan on deploying SQL Server 2008 later this year, you might want to be sure you purchase licenses prior to the RTM of R2.

Steve Jones


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