User group presents MS Office License Calculator

A Dutch group of system administrators last week presented a tool to help businesses estimate the cost of Microsoft's Office software under the new licensing policies that will go into effect on October 1.

After entering details such as the upgrade history and the year a new version of Office is wanted, the spreadsheet model, called MS Office License Calculator, presents price estimates for the three software purchase options that Microsoft will have available.

"All software will become more expensive under Microsoft's new policies. We feel we need to inform our members," said Ron Onrust [CQ], an independent IT consultant and a member of the board of the Netwerk Gebruikersgroep Nederland (NGN), a group of 3,700 Dutch IT professionals from small and large organizations.

In most cases an upgrade to the next version of Microsoft Office will cost companies with a volume license -- available from five licenses up -- about twice as much as with the current upgrade options, Onrust said Monday.

"It depends on your upgrade cycle. The new scheme will be cheaper if you typically buy every upgrade Microsoft serves up. However, most of our members only upgrade once every four years," said Onrust.

Microsoft has already bowed to earlier criticism and has extended the Office upgrade deadline until Feb. 28, 2002. The software maker also created the Upgrade Advantage program, a one-time upgrade option that the NGN calls interesting but not good enough as companies are still forced to decide before Feb. 28. After Feb. 28 companies have three options, said Onrust.

"They can take out a subscription at 25 percent of the end-user license price per year, buy Software Assurance at 29 percent of the end-user price per year, or just buy a new license when the upgrade is wanted at 100 percent of the end-user price," he said.

With a four-year upgrade cycle, all plans will be more expensive than the current Version Upgrades (VUPs), under which companies can buy an upgrade to the next version of software, such as Office, at about half the price of a full license, according to NGN.

The MS Office License Calculator is available in Dutch from the NGN Web site at http://www.ngn.nl/. An English language version should be available soon. The NGN stresses that Microsoft's new licensing model is for all its software, not just Office.

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