I had a bit of a moan at Apple's OS pricing in a recent blog entry, so let's redress the balance by having a moan at Microsoft's OS pricing now.

In one of my installations, I have an Active Directory world. It doesn't do much, but it's a handy repository for access control information (user IDs and passwords) and when we roll out a dozen new PCs shortly, it'll be useful to implement a group policy to nail the machines down so users can't muck up the settings.

For the sake of resilience I'd like to run up a second server to act as a backup for the AD world, just to keep in case the first server has a bit of a tantrum. A couple of hundred quid's worth of hardware should be sufficient (Dell does a cheapie PowerEdge box I've got my eye on, for instance) - but then it's another four hundred quid for a copy of Windows Server.

I guess I'm going to have to say: "Oh well" and buy it. It seems such a shame as I only want an AD server - nothing more exciting. I thought of trying the cheaper Small Business Server, but according to the blurb it can't be an AD secondary (it can do AD, but has to be the only AD server on the network). And I thought of trying WS2003 Web Edition (half the price of Standard Edition) but this can't be an AD server at all, not even a secondary.

It's a shame, this. Maybe I'm asking too much by wanting a cheap AD server (although it's only a small part of Windows, I guess there's a fair amount of technology to it). But it does seem a shame to have to spend twice the price of the server on an operating system of whose capabilities I'll only be using a small fraction.