Microsoft changes licensing again

Microsoft users running older versions of Windows desktop software could face higher costs unless they upgrade to Windows XP by...

Microsoft users running older versions of Windows desktop software could face higher costs unless they upgrade to Windows XP by April 2003, under new licensing changes announced by the software giant this week.

Under the previous licensing model, Microsoft only required companies to purchase a client access licence when their users accessed server software, such as Windows NT 4, with an earlier version of Windows desktop software. So, users accessing Windows 2000 Server with Windows 2000 Professional would not need a client access licence.

The new model, which will come into effect in April to coincide with the launch of Windows .net Server 2003, will require companies to purchase Terminal Server client access licences for all Windows desktop users accessing the latest version of Microsoft's server software.

However, users migrating to Windows XP Professional before April will receive the Terminal Server client access licence at no charge, Microsoft said.

As a result, any company wanting to upgrade to Windows .net Server 2003, will have to purchase client access licences for all their non-XP desktop users.

A survey of City firms carried out exclusively for Computer Weekly found that one in two financial services firms have no plans to upgrade to Windows XP.

Another licensing change to be introduced with Windows .net Server 2003 will give businesses the option to purchase client access licences per user, rather than per machine, so a user accessing Windows server software through a PC, notebook and handheld, for example, would only need one licence.

This change to Microsoft's licensing arrangements for the 2003 release of .net Server is set to create fresh confusion among companies about software licensing and could cost some users more money, industry experts warned this week.

Early concerns centred on the new criteria for when companies have to pay client access licences when accessing Microsoft's .net Web server software.

Colin Beveridge, an industry expert and former interim IT director, said, "The change [the client access licence for accessing Terminal Services] is not quite so clear [as the option for purchasing client access licence on a per user basis] and the issue of confusion arises. I had hoped that the logical progression [in licensing] was to the utility model, in which you pay for usage rather than connections. There is nothing that is beneficial to users under this change and it potentially adds to costs."

With limited information available on the changes Beveridge called on Microsoft to clarify the new licensing arrangements and justify the changes to users.

However, the new option of purchasing client access licences on a per user rather than machine basis is likely to prove more popular with firms with more devices than staff.

Microsoft licensing changes
  • Companies wanting to upgrade to Windows .net Server 2003 will have to purchase a client access licence for every desktop user, unless they upgrade to Windows XP by April. Before, only users of older versions of Windows desktop software needed a client access licence to access server software

  • Companies will be given the option to purchase a client access licence per user, rather than per machine.

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