Decision time looms for companies on Microsoft’s Software Assurance scheme


Decision time looms for companies on Microsoft’s Software Assurance scheme

Users advised to consider additional concessions announced by Microsoft as organisations’ Software Assurance contracts come up for renewal

IT organisations that took out Microsoft’s controversial Software Assurance maintenance programme in 2002 are beginning to assess the value of renewing the contract.

Many businesses still on Microsoft’s Upgrade Advantage licensing scheme, which was replaced by Software Assurance, also face tough decisions about their future licensing, with analyst organisations estimating that globally £580m of software contracts are due to expire this year.

Software Assurance was initially sold to users as a way of securing the right to move at no extra cost to the newest release of Microsoft products introduced in the duration of the contract.

However, the cost – 25% to 29% of the basic licence fee per annum – is one of the highest rates in the industry for what amounts to little more than upgrade protection, according to analysts.

Product releases, such as Longhorn, the next generation of the Windows operating system, have not materialised and some users have said they have not received the benefits they expected from the programme.

In response, Microsoft has made a number of changes to boost the benefits, ranging from improved tools to vouchers for approved Microsoft end-user courses and software discounts for home users.

If users are not tempted by the enhancements to the Software Assurance contract as announced by Microsoft and decide not to renew their contracts, they can carry on running the software they have.

When the business needs to upgrade its software, users can either either buy a licence for the new software outright or buy the licence and also take out a new three-year Software Assurance contract.

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This was first published in February 2004


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