Analyst group Gartner said organisations using partitioning to segregate different applications running on the same multiprocessor server would benefit from the change.
Gartner analyst Alvin Park said some Microsoft customers had complained that the company's exisiting licensing scheme requiresd them to pay for each processor on a server, even though they may not be running on all processors.
The issue has become more acute as organisations have sought to cut costs in the economic downturn through consolidating consolidate single- or dual-processor servers onto larger systems as a way of cutting hardware and systems management costs, he said.
From next month Microsoft will introduce its latest per-processor licensing with businesses paying only for the processors that the software actually runs on, rather than every processor in a partitioned server.
Rebecca laBrunerie, head of Microsoft's licensing programme, said the system would be "a lot more fair and logical" for customers who use partitioning in the existing system.
Microsoft will not offer refunds to customers that have already paid for software they are running on partitioned servers. Those customers will be able to reuse licenses that are "freed up" by the system.
Using partitioning to cut licensing costs can be complex from a technology standpoint, but the latest model offers the potential for big savings for some customers, Gartner's Park said.
The change affect SQL Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2002, Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000, Commerce Server 2002, Content Management Server 2002, Host Integration Server 2000, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 and Application Centre 2000.
For more details see: www.microsoft.com/licensing/resources/server_overview.asp