Microsoft response to SA licence concerns frustrates IT directors

Microsoft has left IT directors frustrated and angry after its initial attempts to explain its decision to make its Software Assurance licensing scheme compulsory for organisations that want to use the enterprise version of Vista, the next Windows operating system.

Microsoft has left IT directors frustrated and angry after its initial attempts to explain its decision to make its Software Assurance licensing scheme compulsory for organisations that want to use the enterprise version of Vista, the next Windows operating system.

In briefings last week, it offered no clear guidance to IT directors wanting to know how the enterprise version of Windows Vista would be made available to firms if they rejected its updated Software Assurance licensing programme.

Those that are not signed up to the controversial scheme will miss out on several bundled software tools that offer significant business benefits.

David Roberts, chief executive of the Corporate IT Forum, which represents 150 blue-chip and public sector organisations, said he had been frustrated by a dedicated webcast arranged by the group with Microsoft to discuss the licensing update, in which insufficient time had been given to answering user questions.

"Organisations are not in a position to give a considered reaction to the recent announcements," he said.

The group will hold a workshop "to help deliver a corporate perspective by examining new SA against real-world, large-scale business requirements", he said.

CIO Connect, the IT directors' group, has also said it plans to discuss SA when it next meets.

Microsoft maintains that the revamped SA programme "does not signal a change in how Windows will be made available to our business customers looking for a professional version".

It initially said Vista Enterprise would offer "exclusive" benefits to Software Assurance customers, which would offer "major advantages in terms of driving down the overall cost of PC deployment and management in sophisticated IT environments".

* Microsoft founder Bill Gates will be guest speaker at a British Computer Society Elite Group of IT directors next month.
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Vista Enterprise: what's in so far

  • International business users can integrate all languages on a single hard-drive image
  • A legacy hardware management tool, Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
  • Virtual PC Express, to run legacy applications on a virtual machine
  • Full Volume Encryption to enhance protection of sensitive data
  • Vista Enterprise will also support hardware data encryption

Read more on Microsoft Windows software

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