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Analyst firm Gartner said organisations that use partitioning to segregate different applications running on the same multiprocessor server would benefit from the change. Analyst Alvin Park said some Microsoft customers had complained that the company's current licensing scheme requires them to pay for every processor on a server, even though the software may not be running on all of the chips.
The issue has become more acute as organisations have sought to consolidate single- or dual-processor servers onto larger systems as a way of cutting hardware and systems management costs, he said.
From next month, Microsoft will introduce new per-processor tariffs, whereby businesses pay only for the processors that the software actually runs on.
Rebecca la Brunerie, head of Microsoft's licensing programme, said the new system would be "a lot more fair and logical" for customers who use partitioning.
Microsoft will not refund customers that have already paid for software running on partitioned servers, but they will be able to reuse licenses freed up by the new system.
Using partitioning to cut licensing costs can be complex from a technology standpoint, but the new model offers the potential for big savings for some users, said Park.