The Open Value licensing programme will allow some customers to spread out software payments over a period of three years when purchasing products such as Windows OS and Microsoft Office. It is comparable to "no-money-down" financing, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.
At present, customers who sign up for the company's enterprise licensing agreements, known as License 6.0, have to pay an up-front fee in addition to annual fees over the life of two- or three-year contracts.
Microsoft enacted the current licensing model in July to mixed reviews from customers and analysts.
Microsoft said Open Value would be available in the US in early 2003 and that eligible customers were those with between five and 250 PCs.
However, research company Gartner said Open Value was slated to go into effect on 1 March 2003 and would be available to customers with up to 500 PCs. Microsoft was unavailable to comment on the discrepancy.
Open Value will appeal to small and medium-sized businesses that plan to upgrade more often than every 3.5 years, or those wanting to standardise on Microsoft software, according to Gartner research director Alvin Park.