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Microsoft adds to Software Assurance scheme

Antony Savvas

Microsoft says it will enhance the benefits of subscribing to its Software Assurance (SA) next year, but has stopped short of undertaking a wholesale restructuring of the much-criticised licensing programme.

Ahead of Microsoft’s announcement, David Roberts of the Corporate IT Forum said last week that the software giant should look to reduce the costs of software licensing, simplify the licensing process and lead the whole industry into a “conflict-free licensing zone” rather than simply fine-tuning SA.

But with this latest update the company has not changed the fundamental basis of its SA licensing. The new scheme will offer seven additional benefits to subscribers from March 2006, with the company aiming to convince users that SA is more than a basic maintenance offering covering upgrades and support.

Brent Callinicos, Microsoft corporate vice-president of worldwide licensing and pricing, said, “Each of the new benefits is designed to help customers access support, services and technology from Microsoft and our certified partners. Organisations can choose to use the benefits when planning, deploying, managing or upgrading their software with greater confidence.”

Among the new benefits are Desktop Deployment Planning Services, and Information Work Solution Services.

Desktop Deployment Planning Services provide SA Select and SA Enterprise Agreement customers with consultancy services, delivered either on site or remotely by experts from Microsoft certified partners or by Microsoft Consulting Services.

The one- to 10-day consultancies will develop a desktop deployment plan demonstrating the latest tools, technologies and best practices for deployment, and showing how desktop total cost of ownership can be reduced.

Information Work Solution Services provide SA Open Value customers with workshops to enable them to get the most out of their Microsoft Office systems.

Other new benefits are designed to enable customers to take advantage of the latest technology and widen staff skills to deliver better technology deployment, migration and management.

Windows Vista Enterprise uses the Virtual PC Express product to support application compatibility scenarios running customer legacy applications in a virtual machine. Virtual PC Express will be available for customers to use before the release of Windows Vista Enterprise Edition in 2006.

Extended training will also be offered to larger customers. Customers that have at least 30,000 Microsoft Office or Windows client licences will receive an additional number of training vouchers that can be used for training from certified trainers.

Microsoft is also improving support with the 24x7 Problem Resolution Support offering. Customers will receive 24/7 phone support for all business-critical outages, including server, Windows and Office-based problems.

For enterprise customers concerned with the security and manageability of legacy PCs running legacy operating systems, Microsoft is introducing Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs. This SA feature is designed to provide a bridge solution that enables customers to get additional life out of legacy PCs while reducing security risks and improving manageability.

In addition, the Enterprise Edition Step-Up Licence helps provide SA customers with the ability to achieve cost savings by migrating from the standard edition of a select list of products to the enterprise edition, without having to purchase a new licence and paying only the price difference between the two products.


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