User group fury at Microsoft licence changes

Leaders of key UK IT user bodies have hit out at Microsoft for its failure to address key issues about the new software licensing...

Leaders of key UK IT user bodies have hit out at Microsoft for its failure to address key issues about the new software licensing regime, which comes into force today.

Representatives from the Society of IT management (Socitm), Elite, the British Computer Society's group of IT directors, and the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS) met with Microsoft in September to request a delay to the changes, which they believe will generate an additional £800m a year for Microsoft in the UK alone.

However, the group's request fell on deaf ears and Microsoft has failed to respond.

In an e-mail sent to the software company, leaders of the three groups said that "insufficient time and information had been given by Microsoft to your customers for them to reach a reasoned decision on the licensing options that would be available after October 2001". The groups originally requested a six-month delay to the deadline.

Microsoft is abolishing its discounted upgrade programmes on 1 October. Many users believe this move will end up costing them thousands - sometimes millions - more in licensing costs.

Last week the IT user group The Infrastructure Forum (Tif) called on the government to look into the licensing changes in a bid to quash the 1 October deadline. The forum also urged users to press for a government investigation into Microsoft's practices.

Socitm, Elite and IMIS criticised the software giant for a lack of communication. In the joint e-mail, the groups complained: "We felt that the communication of the proposals through the distribution chain had been chaotic, slow and badly managed. There had been no communication on your product roadmap, which is key information required to enable a rational decision."

There has been concern throughout the industry that user costs will rise significantly, with money having to be taken from other areas of the IT budget to cope with the price hike.

Microsoft stated in the past that there would be no incremental sales revenues realised as a result of the changes, yet users think differently. Socitm believes that its members alone will have an increased annual bill of £80m.

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