Revised Microsoft licensing gets muted reaction

Most companies still won't touch Software Assurance despite Microsoft's recent changes, according to at least one reseller

The IT industry has given a mixed response to Microsoft's revisions its Software Assurance licensing programme, announced on Thursday.

The software giant has bowed to pressure from its customers to simplify and lower the cost of its licensing programme. But the changes — which range from exclusive access to the next generation operating system Windows Vista Enterprise to training sessions — haven't found favour with some partners and users.

Derek Cross, sales director at Microsoft partner CVSI said the changes would make little or no difference. "The brutal reality is that most of our customers don't want it. Why would companies want Vista when some are still on NT and Windows 2000?"

He added that there was still a lot of "mystique" surrounding Microsoft's licensing programme, because it is so complex.

Jon Collins, senior analyst at Quocirca, queried Microsoft's motives and said he doubted the changes would reap any value for users. "Microsoft is playing a dangerous game. I don't think their customers will be that impressed with these changes."

But others felt the changes added significant value to the licensing package and felt Microsoft had listened to its customers.

"Layers of support and training — that's what the customers want, and I applaud Microsoft for giving it to them," said Alex Tatham, director of commercial products for Bell Microproducts at Microsoft distributor Ideal

"Customers will get an advanced look at the latest technology; this is going to add great value to the Software Assurance offering," Tatham added.

Karen Dallyn, Microsoft partner manager at reseller Lynx Technology, also thought the changes were encouraging and would open up new opportunities for resellers. "Partners have got a good deal. The provision of exclusive access to Windows Vista Enterprise is OK in terms of customers getting to look at technology but helping them to understand the value of the technology is where the partners come in," she added.