At its partner conference this week, Microsoft released new tools to help navigate two of the company's more complicated offerings: product licensing and the Windows Vista client OS.
The licensing tool, called Microsoft LicenseWise, builds upon a previously released tool for Microsoft customers, Product License Advisor.
Product License Advisor helped customers configure an IT environment and generate a report online that would tell them what licenses they would need and the cost, general manager for Microsoft's worldwide licensing and pricing, Mike Oldham, said in an interview at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver.
LicenseWise picks up, for Microsoft's business partners, where that tool left off, he said. It allows a partner to access a quote a customer generated in Product License Advisor, build its own pricing into it and then generate a proposal back to the customer for how much it would cost to license those products through the partner.
Microsoft's complicated licensing schemes have long been a headache for partners and customers, but the company had made a concerted effort in the past several years to simplify the process, Oldham said.
For instance, just two years ago Microsoft had 74 licensing models customers could choose from; now they had nine, he said. More information about LicenseWise can be found on Microsoft's partner website.
The new Vista tool also is an extension of software that is already available, called Windows Vista Hardware Assessment, corporate vice-president of the Windows business group, Mike Sievert, said. That application helped business users see how much effort it would take to migrate desktops in a company to Vista by testing the hardware and device-driver capability of PCs against the operating system (OS), and issuing reports about those results The new tool, Windows Vista Business Value Assessment, allowed partners to sit down with customers to not only assess how Vista would impact their network, but also figure out how to improve the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the installation, Sievert said.
TCO was a crucial concern of customers when it came to Vista, he said. Sievert acknowledged that business customers were still in the early stages of deploying the OS, which was released to them last November, so it was important Microsoft articulated how to upgrade to Vista in the most cost-effective way possible.