Microsoft software assurance: where is the value?

In spite of the weather, it is July. This year is the 6th anniversary of Software Assurance (SA), Microsoft’s controversial subscription licensing scheme. Through the three year subscription, users pay 29% of the licence fee per year for desktop software or 25% for server software. Those who bought into in July 2001, and decided to renew in 2004, will be looking renew again this month. Or will they?

Maybe not, according to Julie Giera, a research vice president at Forrester Research. The main benefit of software assurance is the right to get a free upgrade to the next release of the product covered by the scheme. But, as Giera points out, Microsoft’s product roadmap is not exactly set in concrete. It’s easy to miss out on the free upgrade.

Over a quarter of the people Forrester spoke to have no plans to renew their software assurance subscription. Is software assurance a good buy?