MS price cuts fail to tempt IT chiefs to upgrade

Microsoft's plans to boost uptake of its new Office 2003 product by offering discounts has met with a cool response from IT...

Microsoft's plans to boost uptake of its new Office 2003 product by offering discounts has met with a cool response from IT directors contacted by Computer Weekly.

The discounts come into effect next month for users adopting Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing scheme.

Andy Billington, IT director at clothing retailer Burberry, said he had no intention of buying Software Assurance again, despite the prospect of price cuts.

"I do not want to keep paying every couple of years just to use PCs," he said. "If we take protection again, it locks you into taking the software, which locks you into a strategy by default. We need to sit down and rethink our strategy." Burberry was now looking closely at open systems, Billington added.

Brian Jones, global CIO at drinks giant Allied Domecq, said he was fed up of the upgrade cycle being driven by Microsoft. "It is not just the software itself, it is also the fact that it drags architectural decisions," he said. "It seems ludicrous that a typing package dictates when you have to upgrade your laptop PCs."

Doug Barnes, network services manager at Ashford St Peters NHS Trust, said upgrading to Office 2003 was not an option because the trust's users did not need the functionality offered.

"Existing versions of Office have far more functionality than we need," he said. "We will consider open office products as an alternative."

Mark Buckley, licensing and marketing manager at Microsoft, said Software Assurance was good value. "We now offer far more than just the ability to get the new products when they are released. We have added benefits such as e-learning and home rights for employees. We are constantly reviewing the offering and are planning new benefits for the end of the year," he said.

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