Out of the mouths of Redmond watchers

Here are a few favorite sound bites on some of Microsoft's recent strategic moves on the spending and licensing fronts.

Sometimes, Microsoft watchers say the darndest things. And many times, I am right there with them.

Here are a few favorite sound bites on some of Microsoft's recent strategic moves on the spending and licensing fronts:

R&D: It's not rocket science. Or is it?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed on October 17 that Microsoft won't be spending a "mere" $6.2 billion on R&D in fiscal 2007. Instead, the Softies will be spending $7.5 billion on R&D in the coming year.

"Microsoft is investing an enormous amount of money on research and development," said Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox. "I'd be curious what it produces, because software isn't as tangible as engineering products. It's not like Microsoft makes microprocessors or jumbo jets. It's sometimes hard to see what software is and what it takes to produce it--and the engineering/production costs for software must be different than hardware."

For those who remember what happened to Microsoft's stock price the last time Ballmer's planned spending targets exceeded Wall Street's expectations, things could get ugly. And just when Microsoft's stock price was on the upswing...

Software Assurance (finally) adds value!

Stop the presses! Microsoft's Software Assurance (SA) customers finally have something on which they won't regret spending their annuity-licensing dollars.

Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance may suffer from an absolutely awful name. But it actually will deliver some real, tangible benefits to business customers, for the additional $10 per desktop price.

By some time in the first half of 2007, licensees of the new pack will get application virtualization (Softricity SoftGrid), software-asset-management technology (AssetMetrix), new group policy tools (Desktop Standard) and system-recovery utilities (Winternals) -- all new technologies Microsoft has been snapping up like crazy, as of late, in the hopes of easing Vista deployments/migrations.

"Let's face it - most Microsoft customers purchase Software Assurance (SA) for the version upgrade rights. Sure, SA offers other benefits like work-at-home usage rights, training vouchers, and other relatively minor technical offerings,” blogged Windows Server Most Valuable Professional Jeff Centimano.” But with the new Desktop Optimization pack, “for the first time I'm envious of SA customers," Centimano said.

Read the $%^&*# license? I would, if it were in plain English

Now that all the Windows Vista licensing dust has settled, it's still not entirely clear what users can and cannot do when it comes to using Vista legally on virtual machines. My blogging colleague Ed Bott has been all over this story. But even Bott is still scratching his head over this one.

Microsoft needs to go back and rewrite its End User License Agreement (EULA) in plain English, Bott blogged. And when it comes to barring Vista home users from running the next version of Windows, Microsoft needs to go back to the licensing drawing board, Bott says.

"Microsoft does not provide any technical barrier to running the home versions of Vista in a VM. Their restrictions are purely legal and completely arbitrary."