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Microsoft gives facelift to controversial licensing scheme

In response to user demand, Microsoft has revamped Software Assurance, its controversial subscription-licensing scheme, 11 months after the programme was introduced.

Last July Microsoft finally introduced its first subscription-based licensing scheme, amid a backlash from users concerning cut-off dates to benefit from discount licensing.

The software giant has now made substantial changes, in a bid to offer users greater incentives to sign up to the Software Assurance Programme.

One of the big changes, according to Microsoft licensing product manager Sue Hogg, is that Microsoft will no longer charge users on the software assurance programme a licence fee for teleworkers.

"Software assurance now covers users who work from home," Hogg said.

Previously, Microsoft mandated that every desktop required a licence to avoid risk of software piracy. So two licences would be required to give a telework access to MS Office both at his home office and at his work desktop PC.

Hogg said that now users are covered in terms of licensing to run software both at work and on their home PCs, adding that another benefit for business is the Employee Purchase Programme.

Users on volume licence agreements can offer staff 40% discount on any Microsoft software, apart from the Xbox games console.

Microsoft also bundles its e-learning library and the TechNet developer support programme with the Software Assurance agreement.

Tony Lock, an analyst at Bloor Research, said Microsoft was being sensible in looking at its licensing again in response to customer demand.

"It is a positive sign. Anything that pulls down the cost of licensing is good news." 

Lock believed Microsoft has gone some way to address complaints on expensive licensing. "Bringing down the cost of home software is very good."

Long term, this could pay dividends, as end users may consider a 40% discount as an incentive to purchase the next release of products like Office, even though their existing version does everything they need.


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