Microsoft officials are well aware that its biggest Windows 7 and Office 2010 competitors are its own previous product iterations (Windows XP and Office XP/2003). To try and wean users away from older, "good-enough" releases, Microsoft is introducing a new licensing promotion.
The revamped "Up to Date Discount" program is targeted at small/mid-size business (SMB) customers running older versions of Windows and Office. Between January 1 and June 30 of this year, Microsoft is enabling users running Windows XP or Vista (on the operating system side) and Office XP, Office 2003 or Office 2007 (on the productivity suite side) to receive a discount of 50 percent on the cost of their licenses for Windows 7 and Office 2007 (or Office 2010, once it is released by June 2010).
The 50% discount calculations "are based on estimated retail prices and reseller prices may vary," Microsoft officials acknowledge. But the Softies say U.S. customers who sign up for the program "would be paying $35.00 for a Windows 7 Professional Upgrade and/or $91.00 for Office 2007 Professional Plus in year 1, plus receiving all of the Software Assurance benefits (such as an automatic upgrade to Office 2010 when it launches, Office Home Use Rights, and much more) for that price."
As you'd expect, there are lots of caveats. First,customers get the 50 percent discount only for the first year of their Open Value Subscription (OVS) payment. (OVS is a Microsoft licensing program, introduced last year for SMBs, which allows users to pay for software licenses over time and includes many of the same provisions as Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing program.) The new deal applies only to those customers using the Professional versions of Windows and/or the Professional versions of Office.
The new promotion, which Eric Ligman, Global Partner Experience Lead with Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, announced via the Microsoft SMB Community Blog on January 1, goes beyond the current Up-to-Date Discount offer. Before the new so-called "N-2" update to the program was put in place, Windows XP users and Office XP users were ineligible for the discount. But Microsoft is now offering users of the older Windows and Office releases coverage if they're willing to sign up for the Open Volume Subscription plan.
Meanwhile, speaking of new Microsoft licensing promotions, Microsoft is introducing "version 4.0" of another SMB promotional licensing offer, known as "The Big Easy," according to Ligman.
Starting January 3, SMB customers can increase dollars available for them to spend with Microsoft partners "by purchasing multiple qualifying product groups, adding Software Assurance to their orders and/or acquiring advanced, premium or Enterprise editions of the MIcrosoft Solutions." To qualify, customers need to buy products through their Microsoft partners between January 3 and March 31 via the Microsoft Open License, Open Value and/or Open Value Subscription programs.
Products included under the program include Dynamics CRM, Office Communications Server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server, Systems Center and Windows Server, among others.