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Windows Vista Enterprise only available through Software Assurance

Businesses that want the enterprise edition of Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Vista operating system will have to sign up to the company’s Software Assurance (SA) licensing programme.

SA was introduced in 2001 and encourages users to pay an annual fee to use Microsoft software rather than buying licences outright. SA includes upgrades and other support services, but has been criticised by some businesses for being complicated and potentially more expensive that standard software licensing.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced seven new enhancements to support and services in the SA programme, to encourage more firms to sign up. It has also confirmed that the enterprise edition of Windows Vista will only be available to SA subscribers.

Although the differences in the feature set between the standard and Enterprise editions are still not clear, the move is bound to anger some firms fearful that they could be forced to sign up to SA.

Windows Vista will be commercially available towards the end of 2006.


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