Microsoft repackages its software licenses

Company announces two ways for small and midsize business to pay for application and server software usage, which aims to save customers up to 40 percent.

Microsoft has announced two new software-licensing packages intended to simplify buying and provide discounts at a time when many of the company's customers are looking to reduce costs.

The packages, covering business applications and core infrastructure, are designed to fit in with existing Microsoft licensing programs, such as the Enterprise Agreement (EA). The idea is that customers in these programs will be able to get more out of what they have already paid for, according to the software maker.

"Customers feel the pressure of the economic environment and look for ways to save money on the IT investments they have already made," said Joe Matz, corporate vice-president of worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft, in a statement on Tuesday.

The new licensing plans were announced in conjunction with Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, which is taking place in New Orleans this week.

EA is a desktop-focused licensing program aimed at small and midsize businesses. It was launched after Microsoft's Application Platform Agreement (APA), which is intended for larger companies. Like APA, EA requires that customers pay Software Assurance (SA). This provision, which has attracted criticism, requires customers to pay a premium each year for the right to upgrade to a new version of the software, if one happens to be released during the lifetime of the license deal.

The new software licensing packages are bought as "enrollments" under EA: the Enrollment for Application Platform and the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure.

The Enrolment for Application Platform is a suite of products that includes Microsoft SQL Server database software, Microsoft BizTalk Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Visual Studio development system and Microsoft Dynamics xRM business software.

The application platform scheme allows customers to pay for the software over one or three years, which can mean up to 40 percent lower ongoing costs for a new deployment, according to Matz.

The Enrolment for Core Infrastructure includes Windows Server, Microsoft System Center server management and Microsoft Forefront Client Security. It is designed to simplify the way the software is licensed, Matz said.

"Previously, customers would have purchased our infrastructure technologies using a combination of licensing models including per server, per processor, per operating system environment and subscription," he stated. "With the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure, this is all accomplished using a simple, per-processor basis."

Both schemes will be available from October 1.

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