Microsoft could face a backlash from users if changes to its Software Assurance licensing scheme, due to be announced next month, do not address cost and value concerns.
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IT directors have told Computer Weekly they want Software Assurance to more closely match licensing regimes from other enterprise software companies if it is to deliver business value.
But Microsoft said the breadth of the Software Assurance package means it cannot reasonably be compared to traditional licensing and maintenance agreements.
Peter Monk, secretary of the Strategic Supplier Relationships Group, which brings together 10 of the UK's most influential IT user groups, said, "Microsoft must make a sensible decision for everyone and significantly reduce the annual Software Assurance percentage cost to be in line with other software suppliers."
Software Assurance is based on a percentage of the full licence cost - between 25% and 33% a year - which is far higher than the 10% to 18% other suppliers charge.
Alvin Park, research director at analyst firm Gartner, said, "I do not think most users feel adequate value has been added, irrespective of whether they get an upgrade during the term of their contract."
Mark Buckley, Microsoft's UK licensing marketing manager, said users could not compare Microsoft licensing with other suppliers. "No other supplier offers our kind of package," he said.
Buckley said the company would be adding extra benefits to Software Assurance, but he was not prepared to provide any details until September.
What is Software Assurance?
Software Assurance gives users the right to any new versions of licensed software released during the term of their agreement. Additional benefits include:
* Free licences for teleworkers and home workers
* Discount of up to 40% on any Microsoft software product for staff
* Access to Microsoft E-Learning and Technet developer resources
* Extended hotfix support for discontinued software
* Payments spread over three years
* Training vouchers for desktop software.