Microsoft spurns users over licence changes

Microsoft has refused to move the deadline for its licensing changes despite mounting pressure from user groups.

Microsoft has refused to move the deadline for its licensing changes despite mounting pressure from user groups.

The company met members of the IT directors' forum Elite and user groups Imis and Socitm - the local authority IT directors' organisation - on 17 September, and told them it would continue dialogue on the licensing issue.

Neil Holloway, Microsoft's UK managing director, told IT directors he could make no changes to the new licensing proposals without specific permission from the company's US headquarters.

Less than a week later, a letter sent to Elite, Imis and Socitm by Microsoft made it plain that the company would not contemplate any changes.

The software giant will change the way it licenses its software on 1 October. The company's various upgrade schemes, which entitled users to discounts on software upgrades, will be scrapped in favour of a subscription-based licence.

Microsoft is also introducing new subscription-based volume licensing agreements. Analysts and users have predicted that these changes would lead to greatly increased costs for companies upgrading their software less frequently than every three years.

Microsoft claims that only 20% of its customers will be worse off, and that certain customers will be better off. Roger Ellis, managing director of consultancy Black Raven and member of Elite, questioned this assertion. "We cannot find anybody that is better off [under the subscription licensing scheme]," he said. "And hardly anyone is breaking even."

Ellis said user concerns were not centred on the concept of changing upgrade patterns, but the pricing model. "It does not seem right that Microsoft will be making an awful lot of money without doing anything," he said.

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