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mkramer777Flag for United States of America asked on

license error

I am getting this error message on Windows SBS 2003

License usage for product Product is nearing maximum number of per server licenses purchased

I have 5 installed licenses with a maximum use of 14

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8/22/2022 - Mon
Lee W, MVP

You need to buy more licenses.  Get SBS 2011 Licenses and call Microsoft to obtain the key to enter in SBS 2003.

This is not an error, this is a warning and SBS 2003 DOES eventually enforce the limits and some users will be denied access to server resources if you continue to try to work like this.

Is there a way to check if some users or computers can be deleted from the system?  Ones that are showing up as active but are not active.  Not sure if I am making any sense.
Lee W, MVP

Microsoft does not license by concurrent connections.  They license by named, HUMAN, users or explicitly specified devices (most people license by user).  You can delete whoever you want, but count the people - the HUMAN BEINGS - regardless of account name - that's how many licenses you need.
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William Peck

I'm a bit new at this so here is my question.  When it says I have 5 licenses purchased and a the max number is 14, what does that mean?  2nd, I know I have like 58 users on this system and had some of our tech guys come last winter to make sure we were jiving with licenses.  Not sure what to think.

Go to Administrative Tools - Licensing from the start menu (going off memory here but I think that's it). You need to purchase more CAL's.

How do I know how many to purchase?  What about the question about having users and computers I know don't exist anymore but they still show up in active directory?
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Rob Williams

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You need to have as many licenses as you have users connected at one time. Or if you have a lot of shared computers/devices, then you can buy device CAL's. You don't need to delete any from the system as the licenses don't get assigned to specific users, it just matters how many users there are, period.

With regard to users who don't exist anymore in AD, well, as a good sysadmin you should be managing this. Disable those accounts and move them to another folder (named 'Disabled' for example) for backup purposes.
Rob Williams

The presence of an account in AD does not affect the counter. The counter is reset upon reboot and starts tallying as users or devices connect, depending on user or device CAL's.  I suspect as per the link I posted you have some corruption in the licensing database.

That is not to say you shouldn't properly maintain AD.

For the recod SBS comes with 5 CAL's.  If the licensing manager shows 5 installed CAL's it means there are no purchased CAL's added.  SBS also has a 'fudge factor' of 5 CAL's which means that with 5 CAL's showning 10 users can connect without issue, however the 11th will be blocked.  You say it shows 14 connected, which is an other indication of corruption as this is not normal behavior of the licensing manager.
Lee W, MVP

I think we should make something VERY clear:

The advice offered here is a best effort attempt.  The information we're providing is based on our knowledge and experience with Microsoft products and licensing in our areas.  While the licenses generally don't vary much, laws in different geographic regions can affect what is a violation and what is not.  THE ONLY WAY OF OBTAINING LICENSING INFORMATION THAT SHOULD STAND UP IN COURT IS TO CONTACT THE LICENSE GRANTING AUTHORITY AND GET THEIR STATEMENT IN WRITING.  Short of that, contact an attorney who understands software licensing and have them perform an audit.  An internally performed audit done at your own request will be FAR less expensive than a lawsuit following a demanded audit by a licensing enforcement organization (in the United States, one such organization is the Business Software Alliance - BSA.  

Now, that said, I've never been involved in audits and I don't know any consultant who has told me they have been (and I talk to a lot of consultants).  But I've heard stories of small businesses sued out of existence because they thought they'd save a few hundred dollars on CALs or copies of office or something like that.

I'm not saying you're trying to get away with anything - and I'm writing this comment as much to the next guy who stumbles on this question as I am to you - but if you've just started there and/or things got away because you or someone in your organization got too busy, it's time to fix things.  As I understand software audits, they don't care what your licensing compliance was the day BEFORE you received the letter demanding an audit, they care what it was the day the letter was received.  So if you clear things up today, yo should be fine if the letter arrives tomorrow.

In this case, SBS 2003 LOOSELY tracks compliance by comparing the number of connections to the number of licenses installed.  As has been mentioned (and I have experienced first hand) SBS 2003 can lose track of installed CALs.  And if that's what happened here, no problem.  Locate your CAL License Keys (if you purchased a volume license of them, they should be easily found on the volume license web site you log in to)  and re-enter.  Otherwise, you'll have to find the keys (one reason I prefer Volume Licenses).  Then save the keys once they are entered and you should be ok.  

If you never had the licenses - or need to order more - then you have to buy SBS 2011 CALs (2003 CALs are no longer sold).  But with a call to Microsoft, they should provide you the necessary keys to install them on the 2003 server.

Who needs a CAL?  ANYONE who accesses server resources.  If you're a manufacturer with 45 people on the manufacturing floor who never touch a computer connected to the server, and 15 people in the office who save files to the server, access e-mail and get authenticated, then you need 15 User CALs - NOT 60.  If you're an office with 15 full time employees and 45 other part time employees all with e-mail accounts, then the server authenticates those users - those users need a CAL for each of them, a total of 60 CALs.

Using a generic account like "sales" and having 15 sales people log in DOES NOT mean you only need 1 CAL - you need 15 because you have 15 separate humans.  Licensing is NOT by user account and it's not by concurrent connection when it comes to Microsoft products in general.

This can get more complicated so if you think your situation isn't clear cut, for your own benefit, I would strongly encourage speaking with licensing compliance specialists who can give you some kind of indemnification that what they told you is accurate.  At the end of the day "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a license violation lawsuit.
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Walt Forbes

I have the order that was placed with our tech company showing we have purchased licenses to cover our system.  Thanks for the help.