Microsoft has made significant enhancements to Software Assurance to encourage customers who complained that it cost too much and offered too little to renew their contracts.
One of the main gripes about the original Software Assurance programme was that it provided no tangible return on investment.
To address this, Microsoft has spread out the payments schedule and introduced a number of additional benefits not available to users who pay a one-off licence fee.
In September it added support, e-learning and classroom-based training vouchers to make the programme more appealing, but these vouchers were focused on desktop and end-user training.
Last week it extended the training available to support back-end systems such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server. Large companies are entitled to 165 training vouchers per Software Assurance agreement, which would, for example, cover the entire Microsoft curriculum for Windows, Developer, Support, .net and Exchange for one person. Most companies will have more than one Software Assurance agreement.
Wayne Hammond, IT manager at Dixon Wilson Chartered Accountants, welcomed the introduction of training vouchers into Software Assurance. "”Training was something that did attract my interest,” he said. “I can see it helping some of the users here.”
Users buying Software Assurance now get WinPE, a tool to help them roll out software and patches. They also benefit from an error reporting service, which collects bug-tracking information when Windows applications or the operating system crashes.
According to Microsoft, the user can collate this information on a server and send a report directly to Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters, where the supplier’s engineers are able to analyse the cause of the problem and potentially offer advice on why the IT system crashed.