In the fall of 2001, Microsoft changed how you purchase your software, how you pay, and how they ensure licensing compliance. Previously, when upgrading software (operating systems, office applications, server software and others), if you owned virtually any similar product you were eligible for some type of rebate from Microsoft. You could purchase the software at a discounted price as a “competitive” upgrade, a “version” upgrade or other type of upgrade.
Microsoft’s plan for the future is called Software Assurance (SA). This is essentially an insurance plan for your existing (and new) licenses that will allow you to order product upgrades (in the “family” of software for which you have purchased SA) for the term of the agreement, for “free”. If you do not have an SA, then after the approaching deadline, to upgrade almost ANY Microsoft product (operating systems, server software, office products, etc.) you will be required to pay full purchase price (no rebate for existing licenses).
In addition, Microsoft’s latest products (Office XP, Windows XP and Visio) incorporate an anti-piracy scheme called Product Activation. This technology is designed to eliminate any licensing abuse or piracy of their software. The number of clients with the capability to deal with the complexities of this issue on their own, without making a mistake and without missing the few technicalities that can save them hundreds of dollars a computer – is zero.
Using Logical Developments’ Microsoft Licensing Report system, we present a complete “what you need to know” explanation of this scheme, how product activation could make your life miserable, what can be done about it and how much it will cost to get you current, and keep you current. Elsewhere you may have read a comment about the single phone call where we saved the client twelve times our fee – well, that conversation was about Microsoft Licensing.
The following is an clipping from an article published in November 2003, that indicates the strength of our knowledge regarding Licensing.
Microsoft North American Software Advisor Council (or Randy Goes to Microsoft)
“I am writing this having just returned from the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington, a visit akin to a church deacon invited to the Vatican in the computer business. I am lucky to be one of eleven original members of the North American Microsoft Software Advisor Council, a newly formed body sponsored by Microsoft, but made up from non-Microsoft representatives from across the continent. The Council backgrounds are varied, with IT Consultants and Service Providers ranging in size from two-person firms to having 350 technicians, however every member is focused on customer support and every member is the last link in the chain before the customer.”
I was invited to participate on this Council as an outgrowth of being one of the first in Canada to place a transaction under the Microsoft Open Value program, a licensing method newly minted this spring. The Council’s mandate is to make sure Microsoft understands all of the end-user’s issues with licensing, learn from the licensing experiences we have, and ensure both practicality and values are met.
First, let me clear up a couple of obvious questions. Did I meet Bill? No. The Microsoft Campus has about 50 buildings and 15,000 people report to work there every day. However, I did meet with people that meet with Bill (that’s actually a big deal!). Did I see the Microsoft Museum? Yes. Did I go to the Microsoft Company Store? Yes, and I bought everyone at LogDev a hat! Is any of this relevant to me as a customer? Actually, yes – so read on.
My position on this ongoing council is important to you as an end customer. Through my representation, your feedback can be heard by the precise Microsoft people that design the licensing programs. These are veterans at Microsoft with world-wide responsibilities and global decision-making power, some from the very top of the company, and I can tell you from last week’s work – they are listening.
This is an opportunity for any customer to make suggestions, criticisms or recommendations regarding how software licensing is handled by Microsoft to the actual people that can make a change. It is a rare chance to direct the course of business from the ground up. Microsoft is listening, and already making changes based just on the activity from the Software Advisor Council’s meetings. Our next meeting is first week of December, so any feedback you provide, I can present at this meeting. If you have anything you want to say – as directly to Microsoft as you will ever get the opportunity to have – please let me know so that I can let them know.