User concerns win extended licensing deadline

Concerns by large enterprises led to Microsoft's decision to extend its upgrade deadlines by up to six months, the company's national licensing manager in Australia, Robert Vogler told Computerworld.

Responding to an article in CW last week (July 9, p1), "Users force change to XP licence deadline", Vogler said the company was responding to "common concerns", mostly among large enterprises (with 20,000 or more seats).

"While they accepted the new volume licensing concept, they had no plans in place to budget for a policy change," he said.

The company has confirmed customers with current licences for Windows 2000 Professional Office XP, Windows 2000 Professional, Office XP, Windows 2000 Server and .Net Enterprise servers now have until February 28, 2002, instead of October 1 to enrol in its Software Assurance Program.

Microsoft is also extending from September 30, 2001 to February 28, 2002 the time users with licences for previous versions of a product can purchase the Upgrade Advantage options.

Vogler said the original deadline was too early for users as they still lacked education over the budgetary implications of the changed program.

"People are telling us they need more time to test their purchasing behaviour, but we're not compelling them to upgrade," he said.

The changes to the program effect users with Open licences, which cover five or more seats, and those with Select licences, which cover 250 or more seats. It does not affect those with Enterprise Agreements or Enterprise Agreements subscription customers, because those agreements already include the benefits of the Software Assurance program. To qualify for Software Assurance, you must be using the current versions of Microsoft products.

Under the Software Assurance program, users are obligated to buy operating systems and application upgrades at discounted rates. The program is set up to financially reward those who upgrade frequently, but force those who do not upgrade frequently to pay more than they are paying now in most cases.

"The new program will not have an adverse impact on customers in the medium term, but enable them to purchase [software in] a cost-effective way to get current, and transition into Software Assurance up until the new grace date of February 28, 2002," he claimed.

Vogler stressed that corporate customers here had not rejected the move. However, he said that since Microsoft had announced it would change its volume licensing model to a subscription-based service, businesses "hadn't factored in the [pricing] change to their six to nine month budget cycles, so had to re-evaluate their IT spending."

Meanwhile, in a report released by Gartner earlier this year, the firm concluded that a mid-size company upgrading its software every three years could pay as much as 77 per cent more under the new licensing plan compared to the existing one. Those upgrading every four years could pay 107 per cent more.

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