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New benefits added to Microsoft licence scheme

Cliff Saran

Enterprise users will now be able to access Microsoft source code as a result of last week's changes to the company's Software Assurance subscription licensing programme.

In July 2002, Microsoft 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 said it will be introducing substantial changes to the programme in September, in a bid to offer users greater incentives to sign up to Software Assurance.

Microsoft licensing product manager Sue Hogg said, "Businesses with more than 1,500 desktops will be able to access the Windows source code." Previously, Microsoft ran a "niche" scheme that gave governments access to the source code. The move could allow corporates to gain a better understanding of how patches issued by the software giant affect their IT systems.

Hogg said businesses that provide staff with computer access either from home or on the road are also set to benefit from the Software Assurance changes. She said Microsoft would no longer charge users on the Software Assurance programme a licence fee for teleworkers.

Previously, Microsoft mandated that every desktop required a licence to avoid the risk of software piracy.

Another benefit for businesses is the Employee Purchase Programme. Users on volume licence agreements can offer staff a 40% discount on any Microsoft software, apart from games for the XBox games console.

David Roberts, chairman of IT directors association Tif, said, "On face value, the changes to Software Assurance look like a good step." He said that while the cost savings on software licensing for teleworkers were good in principle, home workers usually required more than e-mail and office productivity tools to work effectively. "While home workers can exist on e-mail alone, they usually need the whole spectrum of business software."

Changes to Software Assurance       

  • Businesses with 1,500 desktops get access to Windows source code
  • IT directors no longer need to buy additional Microsoft licences for teleworkers and homeworkers 
  • Businesses can offer their staff a discount of up to 40% on any Microsoft software product 
  • E-learning and Technet developer resources now bundled with Software Assurance
  • Extended support for discontinued software thrown in for free.

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