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Companies with SA should prepare to haggle over Office 2007 delay

Companies with Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) policies should prepare to haggle with the company for free copies of Office 2007, if they feel they haven’t had good value from their licenses following the product’s latest delay.

Analyst Gartner says companies that had three-year SA agreements which started in September, October or November 2003, may not now get free copies of Office 2007, following Microsoft’s recent decision to further delay the general launch of the product.

While Microsoft now hopes to make Office 2007 available to volume licensees in November this year, Gartner says it could be as late as December 2006.

The analyst said that companies with SA or Enterprise Agreement renewals in September, October and November 2006 “should demand that Microsoft provide the new Office version to them for their three-year investment in SA”.

It added that they should work with Microsoft to resolve the issue before discussing renewal at all. The analyst said, “If Microsoft thinks you’ve already decided not to renew, you lose any leverage.”

Gartner said that if Microsoft refuses an upgrade under existing agreements, and if companies don’t want to renew for three years, they should see if their contracts have one-year renewal option.

The analyst also added that those renewing would find that development work on the next version of Office would now be delayed, so companies should demand a free three-month extension on any new agreements.

Microsoft originally promised that Office 2007 would be ready to volume license holders by October, ahead of a general release date of around January 2007.

Microsoft has now said the general release date has been pushed back to “early January”, meaning a knock back for advance volume licensees too.

Gartner said, “This shows how a shipping delay of just a month or two can reduce the value of an SA agreement. At this point, customers that renewed their Enterprise Agreement (EA) or SA for Office in September, October and likely November in 2003, will not get a new version of Office for the approximately £137 to £171 they paid for each PC.”


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