Microsoft debates easing WTS requirements

With many customers voicing dissatisfaction about the Windows NT prices they must pay for Windows Terminal Server (WTS), Microsoft is rethinking the cost structure of its thin-client solution.

Today, Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition is priced the same as Windows NT Server -- which includes 10 Client Access Licenses (CALs) -- and requires an NT Workstation license for each user. The total price is $US1,129, with additional CALs priced at $39.95 each and extra NT Workstation licenses carrying a $269 price tag.

However, early next year Microsoft will provide some relief to users who turn to WTS to run NT applications on older PCs.

One group that will see a break is employees who work at home. Microsoft will ease work-at-home rights in its WTS licenses, according to Jon Frederiksen, lead product manager.

"A lot of customers want to go home and dial in to Terminal Server and run the same apps at home that they have at work," Frederiksen said. "A lot of IT managers don't want to let (users) install NT (Workstation) at home, but they will let them do this."

The second area in which Microsoft will tweak its WTS licensing is Internet-based scenarios, where the per-seat licensing structure does not fit.

"For example, a food company wants to publish an ordering app on the Internet, and while 10,000 people are using that app today, it could grow to 100,000 very soon," Frederiksen said.

Frederiksen would not provide specifics on new pricing schemes, but said they would be implemented in early 1999.

The moves no doubt will be welcomed by users, but those who long for the days of concurrent licensing will be disappointed. For the past year Microsoft has been phasing out concurrent licensing, which allows companies to buy a smaller number of licenses than they have users, because all of the users don't use the software simultaneously.

"Because of the Internet as well as retail applications if I followed Microsoft licensing for every potential person that touches that box, I'd to have a license for (each of) them," said Rick Smith, vice president of information systems and technology at global entertainment company House of Blues, in West Hollywood, California. "In the Citrix world, it is a concurrent license."

"Microsoft's concern (with concurrent licensing) is that there is no way to control how many terminals are actually being used. If I have a more powerful server that you can hang more terminals off, Microsoft can't stop you," Smith added.

Microsoft also is aiming an NT Workstation promotion directly at WTS customers.

Under the arrangement, WTS customers who run the thin-client solution on Windows 9x machines -- more than 60 percent, according to Frederiksen -- with the OS maintenance plan will get an upgrade to NT Workstation for $99.

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