Microsoft owes users a proper explanation of new licence terms

The UK looks to be the only country where user organisations have been attempting to ward off the clumsy, high pressure bid by...

The UK looks to be the only country where user organisations have been attempting to ward off the clumsy, high pressure bid by Microsoft to totally revamp its software licensing structure.

Moving from a perpetual to a subscription basis could end up being a good thing in the long-term, but users have been asked to make fundamental commitments to complex schemes, based on insufficient information for no obvious benefit in too little time.

That is why, fired up for a long campaign, groups have written to Microsoft and to Government and are preparing submissions to the Office of Fair Trading. Contrast this with the muffled silence on the issue in the US, where Microsoft exerts a quasi-feudal influence.

It is encouraging that British users do talk to each other. They have pure-play user groups and organisations to facilitate this.

Licensing, which lends itself to divide and rule, is exactly the sort of issue that can best be communicated by word of mouth, not e-mail. In the process several of Microsoft's Achilles' heels are being exposed. For example, large users are now worried about lock-in with

Microsoft UK has an unenviable job - having to obey orders from people with deaf ears in Seattle and thereby jeopardise future growth. The £600m of Microsoft UK may be small beer in global terms, but our users are trend-setters.

At one recent large meeting on the issue, every single user believed that, in licensing terms, they would end up paying more for no additional benefit.

The least Microsoft can do is to set up a central system where users can feed in their current licensing arrangements and requirements and have the actual costs of the different options printed out.

That would help to alleviate the appalling customer relations that have flared up so quickly and unnecessarily.
This was last published in October 2001

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